Bandon native is taking to the roads to battle racial discrimination and injustice

Bandon native is taking to the roads to battle racial discrimination and injustice
Sile Johnson in rugby action for Oxford University. The Bandon native is running a marathon to raise awareness for racial discrimination and injustice.

FORMER Cork footballer Síle Johnson is planning to run a marathon this Sunday, having only trained for four weeks in order to raise awareness for racial discrimination and injustice.

The Bandon native, who is currently studying in Oxford Medical School, has reacted to global events and demonstrations recently which have aroused much sympathy from the West Cork lady.

Recent tragic events in the United States prompted the Cork woman to take action as she revealed.

“I was appalled with the murder of George Floyd and that it took this tragedy for me to wake up and see that some of my friends who are black experience racism in their daily interactions.

“With a background in medical research, I decided to use my research skills to better educate myself on how I, as a white person, can be a better ally and advocate for them.

“This led me to uncover more content that was interesting, informative, shocking and actually quite shameful about how difficult life can be for a ‘non-white’ person in our society,” declared the Valley Rovers club player.

Following her thorough research, Síle decided it would be good to share what she learnt.

She also decided to undertake a marathon and ask people to donate their time to read the content she is sharing via social media platforms to better educate themselves.

By completing this marathon, she is running to educate and ensure people become better allies and advocates for the BAME community.

The marathon will take place in Oxford this Sunday, July 5. Síle is looking forward to the marathon.

“It will only be me doing the marathon, with friends joining for legs in Oxford and virtually from different parts of the world.”

The victorious Valley Rovers junior ladies football team who captured the 2008 county title have already demonstrated their support for their former team-mate.

Over twenty members of the winning panel participated in a 5k recently to raise awareness for the #runtoeducate campaign as well as dedicated time to better understand matters of racial discrimination.

Síle was delighted to be joined by her old football team-mates.

“Playing with Valley Rovers was a great highlight. It’s an incredible club with wonderful people involved. I owe the likes of Diarmuid O’Shea, Ted O’Donovan and many others my success with the Cork ladies.

“I am also indebted to the fantastic team-mates I had the privilege to win West Cork and county titles with.

“The measure of the girls speaks from their commitment to get involved with my #runtoeducate campaign.

“I am so lucky to have been part of and still be part of a wonderful group of women. The club were delighted to support and promote my campaign.

“The Rovers ladies club are very progressive. They have been so supportive in wanting to promote this message.”

Tessa Hawkes who was the goalkeeper on the successful Valley Rovers football team was delighted to lend her assistance to Síle’s campaign.

“#runtoeducate is a quick and easy platform to access resources around racism and inequalities in our society.

“For me it was simple. It was impossible to not be involved in Síle’s #runtoeducate campaign.”

Marie Moynihan, Valley Rovers ladies football secretary revealed her club were delighted to participate in such a great initiative.

“Education is such a vital part of this journey and what a great way to bring it to life. Valley Rovers LGFA is committed to GAA For All and strongly believe in maintaining a player centred approach.

“Respect the rights, dignity and worth of every person and treat each one equally regardless of age, gender, ability, ethnic origin, cultural background or religion.”

The ace footballer is delighted to hear so many enlightened conversations taking place throughout the world with regards to attitudes towards racism and encouraging a more tolerant and just society.

“It is wonderful to see. I’m just trying to better understand how to be part of the solution instead of the problem.

“I have found that some of the resources as part of #runtoeducate.

“I have shared have caused people to start a conversation with their families, work colleagues and friends.

“This tells me that we are reaching people. It can be hard for us to admit, but ultimately we have to start by looking at ourselves.

“Having these conversations is vital, if we are actually going to help level the playing field for people of all ethnicities in our community.”

Picture: Tess Derry/PA Wire
Picture: Tess Derry/PA Wire

Síle, who still plays Gaelic football with Éire Óg in Oxford, has also represented the Oxford University rugby team in the annual Varsity game against Cambridge. Both of these teams have been involved in supporting #runtoeducate. Síle is hoping to use her strong sporting background to complete her first marathon.

“I am really lucky to have great people around me. My former hockey strength and conditioning coach from NUIG helped me design a training programme with my cousin Enda who is a successful long distance runner.

“My physio at OURFC, Chris, has supplied me with tools and advice for recovery. The cause is worth it.”

She is looking forward to returning to playing Gaelic football and rugby in the coming months as restrictions are gradually lifted after Covid-19.

“Our rugby training has already started with strength and conditioning. It should be an exciting season with a few big names coming into the fold. This will help lift the standard.”

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