Louise Quinn: The Interview
From rubbing shoulders with Bellerin in the gym, “speed dating” psychology sessions with teammates to the taxing nature of an elite sports star, Arsenal ladies star and Irish international Louise Quinn was kind enough to give an in depth insight into what it takes to make it and continue at the top of the women’s game along with a fascinating description to life at Meadow Park with Arsenal and what the WNL can take from her experiences.
Fresh from an incredible game winning brace against Birmingham City Ladies, the Wicklow native described how she began her journey, reminiscing, “I began playing at just six years old in Blessington, playing with my best friend, who’s Dad happened to manage the team, and I guess I grew up with sport all around me so it was almost second nature. My Dad, Pat, played GAA with Wicklow, but football was my first love. I gave Gaelic football a go, as well as athletics and hockey but stuck with it (football) thankfully.”
Fascinated to know how a young a Irish international, playing Champions League football as captain of Peamount United, found herself in the slightly chillier conditions of Sweden’s second division with Eskilstuna United. The ambitious 26 year old went on to say, “I signed up with a player agency and after a little while Eskilstuna got in touch to say the needed a centre half and I guess I fit the bill after they saw my file. I just thought to myself, I’d like to give it a try and test myself. Thankfully it worked out really well and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In my first season we got promoted as Champions from the second division, second season we finished mid-table, 7th , and after establishing ourselves a little, the following season we finished runners-up to Rosengard but got Champions league football. So a pretty quick rise.’
‘After four years away in Sweden, I thought maybe its time to come home, or at least closer to friends and family. It’s really challenging being away, it’s a fantastic lifestyle but can really take its toll, I’m pretty much a home bird believe it or not!”
Quinn then moved to a slightly warmer climate signing for Notts County Ladies but following the sad scenes at Meadow Lane, with the team unfortunately having to fold, she went onto sign a short-term deal with Arsenal Ladies. (having been previously scouted by boss Pedro Martinez Losa)
“It’s going pretty well, I’m not playing as much as id like, but it’s a fantastic experience at a top club. Just yesterday Arsene Wenger was in the gym and we see a lot of the lads around. (Hector) Bellerin and (Nacho) Monreal love a game of head tennis too. But getting to mix and share these facilities really gives you a lift knowing you’re at that elite level with the best of the best and gives the club a real family feel, that you’re all equal.”
The Liverpool fan was keen to share her knowledge and experiences of being abroad and what could help ladies in the domestic league reach that “next level” and what opened here eyes the most was the sheer physicality and athleticism of her competitors. “I’m a huge “foodie” and as it says on my twitter bio, food is the way to my heart! So I had to focus a lot of my time and energy educating myself on nutrition and diet. I was really focused on getting into proper shape like the elite athletes. I cant encourage players enough on looking into this side of the game and getting in the best shape possible.’
“In Sweden for example, it starts from the schools. There is a lot of emphasis on health and sport and some classes even have lifting weights as a class, showing proper techniques. You could also have classes dedicated to say just Football, so its taken seriously. The biggest thing, for me, is the education on training and healthy eating. Most of the elite players have had this education from a young age, where as I was about 24, when I was properly introduced to this sort of thing. Without a doubt it certainly makes a difference in terms of performance, athleticism and making that step up.’
‘At Arsenal its very much the same, very professional, a lot of focus on training right, recovery and eating the best you can, I even find myself googling ingredients of what I’m buying to make sure! But with a couple of things added here too. For example, we have Psychology sessions as a team and access world class high performance training and equipment also.”
One such Psychology session saw the Irish International and her team mates sit around in typical speed dating situation, and one by one took turns to say something positive to each other.
Whilst the next leg of her fascinating journey may remain unclear, one thing is for certain the former FAI Senior Women’s International Player of the Year
is very keen to develop and help the domestic game as much as possible. “I have my Sports and Exercise Management degree from UCD but would like to go down the route of Sports therapy or Sports massage and help introduce what I learn to benefit whatever club I am involved in. I would also like to share even more of my experiences and help as best I can, because I believe we have some really top talent at home but in other countries the talent pool seems bigger, so we need every competitive edge we can get, I’m no expert and not finished learning or improving but its certainly a route I’d like to explore and I can see the differene already, so if anyone out there wants to help me further, don’t be shy!!”