“Sport gives people a platform to come together for a common cause and experience a collective identity”

Róisín Upton is a 28-year-old Hockey Olympian from Limerick city with a cumulative total of 97 caps and 24 goals since her first cap back in November 2016. In 2018, Róisín earned silver in the World Cup in London, becoming a two time NCAA Champion with the University of Connecticut, and an Irish Senior Cup champion with the Catholic Institute.

Having earned a primary degree in Psychology and a Masters in Education, Róisín currently works as a primary school teacher and has her sights firmly set on an Olympic medal.

Name: Róisín Upton

Profession: Teacher

Earliest sporting memory?

Playing soccer with the boys under 6 team in the local club Janesboro in Limerick city.

How did you become involved in your sport?

I started hockey in secondary school in Crescent College Comprehensive. It was the main sport for girls, so I was eager to give it a try.

What message would you like to share with young women and girls interested in pursuing a career as an athlete?

Everybody is different. Run your own race. Set goals for yourself. Watch more sports – live or on Youtube. Reach out to people, ask questions, and ask for help. Take the opportunities that come your way.

Proudest moment so far…

Playing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The female athlete I admire most is…

Serena Williams because she is a strong, confident, resilient competitor. She is humble and plays with her heart on her sleeve. She has been incredibly dominant, but also found balance in her life. She’s a winner.

Róisín Upton

Favorite sporting memory…

Winning a World Cup Silver Medal in London 2018, or running around the pitch in Donnybrook in 2019 when we became Ireland’s first ever female team to qualify for an Olympics.

Do you think there is still a stigma around women in sports?

Yes, I think we are still compared to male athletes in sports, which is a huge misunderstanding by some people.

What is the biggest barrier to driving visibility in women’s sports?

Male sports have had an incredible head start down through the years, and funding and media coverage has helped drive its successes. Female sport was never on an equal footing, and didn’t have those same opportunities. That has started to change, and we are now seeing growth and recognition in female sport, which is long overdue.

The biggest stigma/preconception that exists in women’s sport is…

There is still a preconception that because we are not as fast or powerful as men, we do not deserve our fair share of funding and coverage. We, as females, compete against each other on an equal basis. A cornerstone of all sporting activities is one of fairness. Two teams competing against each other using a set of rules to determine a winner.

If I wasn’t an athlete I would be…

Not tired all the time! Hopefully pursuing a career in sport in some capacity; be it coaching, punditry, sports psychology, an agent, marketing or a sports consultant. I love sport and can’t imagine not being involved in some capacity.

My favorite pre-game meal is…

Oats with a banana and Nutella, or overnight oats with frozen berries.

Róisín Upton

My pre-game playlist includes…

A bit of everything!

  • Everything by Switch Disco
  • Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
  • You’re a Superstar by Love Inc
  • The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes
  • Sunday Morning by Matoma

My daily routine is…

Extremely varied. When we aren’t traveling and playing abroad, Mondays and Tuesdays are typically spent in the sports campus with Ireland — gym, meetings and training. Wednesday to Friday is part time work and training remotely with my club Catholic Institute. On Saturday, we have a club or intersquad game. Sunday is a rest day.

My biggest sporting goal is…

To win an Olympic medal.

Sports brands I love (Irish or otherwise)…

Queen B Athletics and Lulu Lemon.

Biggest splurge to celebrate a win..

Win or lose, I like to book trips abroad with family or friends at the end of the season to reflect on the year gone by and refresh for the year ahead. A group of us went to Marbella to celebrate after Tokyo 2020.

How do you mind your mental health?

Chats with friends, going for walks, yoga, sea swims and journaling.

My three desert island beauty products are:

La Roche-Posay lip repair balm, suncream and moisturiser.

Róisín Upton

I need 9 hours of sleep a night because….

My body and mind need time to switch off and recover.

Confidence, to me, comes from…

Really getting to know yourself. Knowing what makes you tick. Feeling prepared – knowing you’ve done everything you can.

How do you get over a bad performance?

I learn from it. I analyze the game and chat with my dad. He has taught me more than anyone.

Finally, why is sport such an integral part of community, on a club, local, national and personal level?

It gives people a platform to come together for a common cause and experience a collective identity. It also channels our innate competitiveness no matter what standard or level we participate at. Lots of communities use sport as a focal point to develop friendships, which is an integral part of life.

Imagery via Róisín Upton.