Friday, 12th of January 2018 was more than an ordinary school day for Anna Capcarrere, a First Year Student at Lucan Community College. Anna, together with her school, proudly handed over a cheque in the sum of €400 to Aaron Guli, President of the Irish Ice Hockey Association. This sponsorship money was raised by Anna and her fellow students to help sponsor the Irish International Under 12s Irish Ice Hockey Team ‘The Saints’ of which Anna is a member. Anna’s team is travelling to the Inaugural 2018 Commemorative Imjin-Pyeongchang International Youth Ice Hockey Tournament South Korea on the 14th January 2018, to compete in an International pre-Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament. Anna and her team will compete against teams including Canada, USA, Russia, Korea and Japan in a 4 day tournament. Anna is one of the 16 players travelling and is the only female player in Ireland selected for the trip, although let us point out now that no one on her team, in her club or in the Irish Ice Hockey Association differentiates her from the rest of her team.
Anna is a passionate ice hockey player and approached her school with the idea of a non-uniform day to raise funds for the trip as the Irish Ice Hockey Association receives no Government funding whatsoever and relies completely on sponsorship and other fundraising to enable it send teams to such events. When Anna approached her school, it was more than happy to support her idea to raise funds, particularly as, according to School Principal, Diane Birnie, Lucan CC is passionate in its encouragement of sport and physical education for students. Ms Birnie indicated that the school is actively engaged in encouraging and promoting the continued participation of girls with sports and physical education. Ms Birnie pointed out the school is conscious of the documented evidence confirming a major drop in the engagement of girls in sporting activities during their early teens.
As a female athlete, Anna is in very good company at Lucan Community College, as one of Lucan CC PE teachers is former Irish Women’s International Rugby Captain, Fiona Coghlan. When asked for her view on the importance of sport in the life of teenage girls, Ms. Coghlan told how she felt that continuing sporting activity for all had more than just physical benefits. Ms. Coghlan firmly believes that being involved with sports is beneficial to positive mental health and promotes the engagement of students with the community by being part of a team.
With Lucan Community College actively applying to participate in the Leaving Certificate PE syllabus Ms Coghlan’s views are also supported by Vice Principal, Stephen Brett, who indicated that physical education and sports at Lucan Community College is for everyone, regardless of gender. He said that the school has a substantial and very broad spectrum of sporting activities from Rugby to Pilates, and all are open to both male and female students.
Mr Brett went on to say that the School body is amazed by Anna and her sporting achievements and are completely supportive and extremely proud of her.
Anna began playing Ice Hockey at the age of 9 when she joined the Flying Ducks Ice Hockey Club. Many would think this an unusual sport for a young girl to choose because it is perceived as a male dominated sport and also Ireland does not have an ice rink.
However, when Anna joined the Flying Ducks she was welcomed with open arms by the club. President of the club Ms Daly explained that that the Club has over 70 junior players currently and 30% of these are female, with new players joining every week. Ms Daly considers Anna to be an outstanding role model and mentor for the other players within the team, particularly the girls and younger beginners who regard her as nothing less than a Hero. She says Anna’s Under 12s team mates just think of her as just Anna, the team’s unstoppable Defender and regard her without question as one of their own. Her gender does not even enter their minds.
On the ice Anna is fast, she is strong, she is a Giant and Hero. Oh and she just happens to be a girl.