A sports lecturer at North West Regional College has been selected to represent the Ulster Ladies team at the Interprovincial Championships.
Michelle Gormley McLaughlin, who coordinates the Level 2 Diploma in Sport course at NWRC, says age should never be a barrier to sport, adding that she was delighted to have got the call-up for the squad, at the age of 47.
The local lecturer says she now hopes her success will encourage her sports students at Strand Road, and other women in the North West to have a go at rugby.
“I played my first rugby match on my 40th birthday,” she said, “having previously played Camogie and Gaelic”.
“The call-up took me completely by surprise because I wasn’t expecting it, but I’ve done all the training which meant going to Portadown every Wednesday night. I had lots to learn being thrown in at the deep end and I had to get to know the rest of the team”.
“It has been fantastic though and I started off playing a friendly against Connaught where I got on to play for a full half. And on Sunday I made my official debut for Ulster against Munster”.
The loosehead prop forward says she now hopes her performance on the Ulster squad will inspire her sports students at NWRC.
She said: “I love encouraging young people, and I think it’s good that as well as teaching sports to the young people they see me out there doing it”.
“I believe it adds value to my teaching and keeps it current and to the point.
“I was one of the first students to ever take a course in sport at NWRC when they first introduced the subject at the college exactly 30 years ago.
“It was a brilliant course and the place where I was introduced to outdoor education. Since then I’ve watched hundreds of students go on to teach sport, travel the world, open their own gym, and much more. It’s always great to hear of the successes.”
Lynda Hegarty, Curriculum Manager, Sport at NWRC: “We would like to wish Michelle the very best for this exciting selection. It is a fantastic opportunity and we know she has put so much work into it. The staff and students at NWRC are very proud of her and she has our full support."