Women In Sport Project - Article by Sarah Hickey

Sarah (Uniform No.8) and the team


Prior to TOKYO 2020, the Embassy of Ireland in Japan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan are hosting a Twitter campaign titled “Women in Sports” on July 14th. The purpose of the campaign is to promote women's participation in sports and to reinforce gender equality in the Irish sports world. 

To collaborate with this campaign and deliver a positive message on the topic of Women and Sports, we interviewed Sarah Hickey, an IJCC director.

1. What type of sports do you play?

As I was born in Kerry, I grew up playing Gaelic football and basketball both of which are very popular and for which the County is renowned.

I played for my local clubs and schools before progressing to County level at age 13 and played both sports at Country level until I left university. 

After moving to Japan, I took up long-distance running. I completed the Tokyo marathon once and enjoy going to the gym a few times a week.


2. When did you start playing it?

I started playing both Gaelic football and basketball when I was around nine years old, my older brother Eoin was always practising both sports in the backyard, so I used to play against him. He is quite tall, strong, very skilled, and quite competitive which was a good thing as it helped me to pick up new skills quickly and compete at an advanced level.


3. What is the most memorable experience of playing sports?

It’s difficult to pick one as I have so many, but my earliest memory is playing for the Kerry Primary school team, we played during half-time at a Kerry versus Cork Munster Final in the Fitzgerald Stadium in front of 46,000 spectators, the stadium was full of Kerry support and it was an incredible feeling to be on the same pitch with some of the all-time greats including Kerry's Maurice Fitzgerald.

Secondly winning the All-Ireland basketball under 18 championship with St.Paul’s Killarney and also the All-Ireland secondary school title with St.Brigid’s Presentation whilst playing at the National Basketball arena in Dublin with the games being aired on TV was an incredible feeling. There are many more memorable experiences, but they are just a few that stand out.


4. What lesson did you as a woman get from playing sports?

The biggest lesson I got from playing sports was quite simple, if you put in the hard work then it will pay off. If you want to be the best at your game, then you must believe in yourself, make sacrifices, use your time wisely and set goals.

Sports taught me how to be a team player as well as a leader, how to lead a team to achieve results and how to be a coach passing on the skills I gained over the years. It also taught me how to accept losses, as losing and failure can often be a stepping stone towards success.

Sports teaches you a lot about your mental and physical limitations and strengths, it teaches respect, integrity, and ambition. I apply the skills I learnt from playing sports to everything I do in life, from physical activity to education and to work.


5. In what ways do you think sports can have a good effect on society?

Sports plays a crucial role in uplifting a nation's economy, currently, there are more than six million careers in sports, and at one time they were only open to men. The world of sports plays a crucial role in unifying countries and people from all over the world in building a healthy, equal society by bringing people from all walks of life together as one.

Sport is a universal language; it is a powerful tool and has proved to bridge gaps in communities, it teaches one how to socialize even if you do not speak each other’s language. Physical activity can play a crucial in influencing people's lives as it helps in promoting a culture of fitness and is often perceived as a platform to relieve stress.