The Barra girls travelling hundreds of miles to play football


Catriona O'Carroll

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Catriona O’Carroll’s dad says she ‘lives, breathes and sleeps football’

Two sisters are making round trips of more than 300 miles every two weeks to play football.

Charlotte, 13, and Catriona, 12, O’Carroll travel from their home in Barra to Glasgow on Fridays to train with Glasgow City FC’s under 15s.

They play for the team on Saturdays and Charlotte flies back home to the Western Isles on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Catriona stays on in Glasgow for training with a Scotland women’s under 14 regional squad on Mondays.

The girls signed for Glasgow City’s training academy in June last year after they were spotted by a scout. Charlotte is a striker and Catriona a midfielder.

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John O’Carroll

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Charlotte, 13, and Catriona, 12, play for Glasgow City under 15s

Since January, Catriona has been receiving one-to-one training at Scotland’s national stadium, Hampden, during the day on Mondays before joining an under 14 regional squad for training in the evenings.

She flies home on Tuesday mornings to get back to home and her school work.

The sisters, who also play football in Barra, come from a football-loving family.

Their dad John, a builder, is an SFA-qualified referee and coaches boys’ football. He accompanies his daughters on their trips to Glasgow.

The sisters’ brothers Michael, seven, and John, 10, also play football and big sister Kayleanne, 22 and a hotel manager, was known to kick a ball around in her youth.

The siblings are passionate Liverpool FC supporters.

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The sisters make their trip to Glasgow every two weeks

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The sisters play football in Barra when not on their travels

Every second week, John accompanies his daughters for their football training in Glasgow.

One of Catriona’s trips for practise with Scotland at Hampden was followed by BBC Scotland’s The Nine.

However, it turned out to be one of those occasions where the journey did not go as planned.

The flight from Barra’s famous beach runway to Glasgow was cancelled after they had arrived at the airport.

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Catriona and dad John catching a ferry during one of their trips to Glasgow

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Catriona says the journeys can sometimes be tough

John and Catriona had to then take a mini bus to catch a ferry to Eriskay and then a taxi to Benbecula’s airport for a flight to Glasgow.

The journey took five hours.

John says that as Catriona’s football career progresses and the level of training and games become harder she will have to spend more time away from home.

Her dad says: “She will have to be here (Glasgow) a day or two days early because if you have an important game you have to be prepare mentally and physically. You have to be rested.”

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Dad John accompanies his daughters on their trips to Glasgow

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Mum Eileen says funding the journeys can be a challenge

Mum Eileen, a primary school teacher who runs her own dance school with about 60 pupils, concedes the trips are expensive.

She adds: “We’ve been lucky enough to get a small amount of funding, but really it is just ourselves trying to fund this.”

Catriona says the journeys to and from home can be tough.

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John O’Carroll

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Catriona, John, Michael and Charlotte on a visit to Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium

“Sometimes when it gets really hard I think: ‘Why don’t I just move?’ she says.

“But then I think I don’t want to do that because all my friends are on Barra, and I would miss them.”

John says upping sticks and moving to Glasgow would not be easy.

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Catriona plays in the midfield for Glasgow City and the Scotland squad she trains with

“We’d have to uproot the whole family,” he says. “We got a life here in Barra.

“But we’ll keep making the journeys because of their love for football.

“Catriona especially just lives, breathes, sleeps football,” he says, adding that he had to stop her kicking a ball around inside the flat they stay in while in Glasgow for fear of disturbing their neighbours.

“She was trying to copy a trick that she had seen on YouTube.”

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