After her goal brought Ireland women’s soccer team to the World Cup for the first time two weeks ago, everyone wants to know a little more about Amber Barrett: what’s she like and what’s the career path that made her the main character of such an historical moment.
SIN spoke to James O’Callaghan, coach who managed young Amber in her University team and then in Peamount United FC Dublin’s team where Barrett played for five seasons before heading to Germany to play as a professional.
Amber Barrett was born in 1996 in Milford, County Donegal, from a family of Gaelic football players, trainers and supporters. She soon became a Donegal GAA player, and while attending a teacher training course at Maynooth University she joined the college soccer team.
She played both sports at the same time, constantly going back and forth from one to the other – “hard to do without clashing and impacting at least one of the two”, according to Mr O’Callaghan.
She eventually chose soccer, also due to a health condition. Thanks to a connection between Maynooth and Peamount United FC, she signed for Peamount in 2015 in the Women’s National League.
“Both in Maynooth and Peamount, Amber was a phenomenal goal scorer. She’s been doing that her whole career”, explains Mr O’Callaghan.
“When she chose soccer over Gaelic football, she committed fully. She took some trainings that made her better at the game and quicker, not only a goal scorer. She became a big game player as well, helping her team to win many times.”
Amber was playing for Peamount when she took part in a national team match for the first time with Colin Bell’s Republic of Ireland team. Already in 2018, Barrett’s goal in a win over Slovakia kept Ireland in contention for World Cup qualification.
“Amber has a smiley, warm personality. She was a model for our young players, and still is. We were sad when she left Peamount, but happy because she got a full-time professional contract in Germany”, says Mr O’Callaghan.
In 2019, Barrett joined FC Köln who were just promoted to the Frauen-Bundesliga (German women’s national league). After three years she moved to Turbine Potsdam, her current team.
The impact Barrett’s goal had on Irish women’s soccer is not only about the access to the World Cup, but it could boost the relevance of the sport at a national level: “We hope that with the national team making it to the World Cup, the whole sector will receive more funding and increase its chances to get semi-professional, to generate income for the girls playing” says Mr O’Callaghan, who is sure that the quality of Irish women’s soccer has developed and improved in the recent years.
“I see it in the early years in Peamount, in the coaching and in how the girls play”.