Q&A with Defensive Player Serena Barr on the Qualifying Match, Road to Tokyo, and Global Hockey
On November 4, 2019, Ireland Women’s Hockey Team battled against Canada for the spot in the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. In a suspenseful finish, the Irish team secured their place on the road to Tokyo in a final shootout.
We sat down with defensive player Serena Barr to learn about her opinion of the match and how her experience playing international field hockey helped her get there.
- How did you come to play for Ireland’s Women’s Hockey Team?
I got my first cap in January 2019 in Chile alongside my twin sister Bethany. After watching the glories of Ireland in the 2018 World Cup getting silver, Bethany and I pledged to each other that we were going to work hard together to make that team. It had been an unspoken dream of ours for years, but one we had told very few people about – this was the first moment we properly vocalized it. After the World Cup we went on a trip with the U23 development squad and then after that were called up into the Senior squad for our first caps.
- What was the team and experience like qualifying for Tokyo 2020?
Qualifying for Tokyo 2020 was an amazing experience, getting a home draw and having a drop in pitch into Donnybrook Rugby Stadium was incredible. It allowed us to have over 6,000 fans at each game which really pushed us over the finish line. The run up to the games themselves was a tough period of training but well worth every single bit and the competition within the squad is fierce which is brilliant for improving performance.
- What was going through your head during the final shootout with Canada?
The shootout was nerve wracking. I tried not to take in the enormity of it, just trying to keep a cool head and I said a lot of prayers through that shootout, especially when my twin sister, Beth stepped up to take hers!
- What does making the Olympics mean to you?
I can’t begin to describe what making the Olympics means to us and to Hockey Ireland as a whole. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the team to qualify for Ireland women’s maiden Olympics and this is something that the nation of Ireland has been pushing towards for a long time. It is a very special occasion and one we will always remember. We definitely did it in nail-biting fashion, but it is a memory we will relish for the rest of our lives!
- What are you most looking forward to between now and Tokyo 2020?
I look forward to getting back out on the pitch with the girls and pushing one another to be better players and a better squad as a whole. There’s no denying there will be tough moments between now and then but doing it together with your best friends makes it all worth it.
Before Ireland’s women’s national team, Barr played in the US collegiate system at Liberty University from 2013-2017. She gained her undergraduate degree and decided to continue playing post-college, playing in England in the English Premier league from 2017-2019 while pursuing a Masters degree. From there, she returned home to Ireland to play for the Irish Senior side. Her international experience opened her eyes to new ways of playing.
- How has playing on various teams around the world helped your hockey career?
It has developed me into a more well rounded player on the field and also a better individual off the field. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and have learned different systems, structures and styles of play, both to play in and against. I have also had the benefit of playing with girls from all over the world who have all pushed me to be a better player. I have loved my experience playing all over the world, it has been invaluable, and I hope I continue to get the opportunity to do so in the future.
- How has playing hockey helped you personally?
Hockey has taught me a lot. It has taught me many transferable skills that I can take into any situation. Playing a team sport is special not only because you make lifelong friendships through it, but you learn how to be a good team member, how to lead others, and how to respect your coaches and teammates. It has brought me all over the world and has brought me a lot of joy, not to mention many lows; however, the highs far outweigh the lows and I have learned how to deal with each of these with a level head. But besides all that and most importantly, hockey has brought a lot of fun and friends into my life.
- What advice do you have for others in the hockey community?
Work hard, push your limits and the limits of those around you and enjoy every moment of it. You may fail many times but it’s about getting back up again to go again.
There you have it. Barr’s unique global hockey story helped her get to where she is today – an Olympian. To continue to follow her journey, click here. To learn more about how you can get involved with Uru Sports to showcase your own sports story, click here.
“I hope in the future I’ll get to travel again to broaden my experience, develop further and contribute to another team. I feel Uru will help and equip me to do this and make it easier for others wanting to do the same, making playing abroad much more accessible and less daunting and challenging than it possibly can be for people.” – Serena Barr