TOO many players walk away from the game when its time to hang up their boots.
However with so many opportunities in so many different areas, there’s no reason why one can’t stay involved in the beautiful game, if they desire.
For some it may be as a coach, an administrator or others it may be as a referee, but more importantly it’s about staying involved, and giving back to the game that may have brought you so much joy over the years.
Recently I caught up with Cork City FC women’s player Katie McCarthy, and although, at 29 she’s still too young to hang up her boots, but still she has a plan and that is to stay involved in the game as a coach.
Currently she is already getting ahead of herself and has been doing so for years.
She has being involved in many schoolboy and girls teams and her most recent appointment was as coach to the schools U15 International girls squad.
Delighted to be involved, the Ballinhassig girl talks about the experience, the standard of girls football and her hopes for the season ahead.
Some of the quotes used here are from the Cork City match program of last Friday night's game with Finn Harps, where Katie also spoke to Chris O'Mahony, while the rest are from my conversation with her on Saturday.
“To be completely honest, being asked in as a coach with the Irish U15’s came out of the blue, says Katie. I got a phone call from Richard Berkeley, the U15s manager.
"He was looking for someone in the Munster area to come on board as a coach. I suppose having completed my UEFA B licence, having coaching experience and being a teacher, I ticked all the boxes.
“My role involves taking part in training sessions, communicating with players and helping them to develop and improve themselves as players and as people.
“At the moment we are putting our squad together for the Bob Doherty tournament in Manchester over Easter. The squad will have some of our academy players Heidi O’Sullivan, Ellie O'Brien and Grace Flannagan so that is great for Cork.
“It’s good being involved with school teams seeing players at local level, at our academy, U17 teams at Cork city and then internationally so I get to see players progress up the pathway and that players can see there is a pathway also.”
The midfielder has being involved with Cork City since 2011 and although she had brief spells as a player with Wexford and DLR Waves, she has been back with City since 2014 and loving her time there, and although she has seen many changes and developments in the game over the years, she feels there is still room for improvement in many areas of the women’s game.
“When I was younger there was no pathway or possibility to become a footballer at a serious level.
“Girls now have more of an opportunity to really go after that if it’s what they want, but I feel we still have a long road to travel to improve the women’s game in terms of recognition and what should be deemed acceptable.
“With the new restructuring of the FAI there is a chance to put structures in place to grow the game. And I hope they will do so.
“I think in Cork we are lucky because girls can see a pathway to play for the biggest club in this country.
“You look at what the LGFA have done with serious support from a big sponsor so why can’t we replicate that and create positive growth for women’s football in Ireland.”
McCarthy has a busy schedule at the moment but is looking forward to the season ahead which kicks off with a home game against Peamount on March 15.
“Pre-season is going really well. The squad is coming together nicely. We have made some really good signings in the window and it’s great to see them slot straight into the squad. We have played a few friendlies during pre-season which has been great as it gives the management a chance to see players as we have a fairly large squad at the moment.
"There is a lot of competition for places which is a good thing of course, although maybe a headache for management, however it keeps all us players on our toes, and makes us work harder at every session.
“We have more young players progressing from the U17s again it’s great to see more young players coming up, adding quality to the squad while also giving the players in Cork a clear view of the pathway of playing National league. The interest from girls wanting to play at this level is huge and increasing every year.
"It’s important for players to be playing with and against quality players on a more regular basis as it will only improve their game.
“The standard is improving every year which is down to the hard work that’s being done by coaches. I feel more and more girls are becoming interested in playing at a higher level and that is great for the game.
“I am really looking forward to the season ahead and I feel we have the hard work done in pre-season to do really well this year.”