From GAA pitches in the green and yellow of Donegal, to soccer pitches in the green of both Ireland and Peamount United, Amber Barrett’s reputation as an all-rounder is no secret.
The 23-year-old sharpshooter made her international debut in September 2017, and is now a central attacking figure in Colin Bell’s Irish squad as they prepare to embark on their UEFA European Championships qualifying campaign.
Her formative roots in sport, however, did not involve kicking a ball.
Barrett’s defining moment comes from an experience she had when she was 10 years old. An athletics enthusiast with her local Cranford AC, her passion was for sprinting, but cross country was a big part of the action too.
“Every year we used to go up to run in a place called Stormont. I ran this particular day – two years out of my age group – and I finished 11th, which was really good. The distance was a lot longer than what I had been doing, so it was a really testing day for me.”
But it wasn’t running that race that had a lasting impact on Amber – it was watching another one.
“I remember I stayed around to watch the senior women’s race, because I had a great interest in athletics at the time. There were three Ethiopian runners competing, and they were miles and miles ahead of the rest – and that, for me, was a moment that was just like ‘WOW… this is how good you can be at a certain sport’.
“Looking at these women and how they had absolutely dominated the race, I remember being in awe of how good they were; how class they were as runners. They never looked tired, and I remember thinking I’d love to have that ability to do that race as quickly as them and not look in any way out of breath.”
So enthralled was Amber with seeing these elite international athletes in full flight, that she made sure to meet them post-race, and have her photograph taken with them. She doesn’t recall their names – but she’ll never forget the indelible impact they had on her.
“That’s THE moment for me – the moment that made me have that desire to be as good at sport as those girls were, and have the perception that you can dominate a sport if you’re willing to work hard at it.”