Amber Barrett Interview by Dylan O’Connell

While the world waits for a full resumption of football, Republic of Ireland senior international Amber Barrett has returned to action in Germany, playing games behind closed doors.

The striker, who plays for FC Köln in the Frauen-Bundesliga, made the move North Rhine-Westphalia in June 2019 from Women’s National League club Peamount United.

Her first season at the newly promoted club was halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now she is eager to help FC Köln escape relegation.

Amber: “We are living in crazy times but things are slowly starting to open up again. We are slowly getting into some shape of normality now,” Amber told Pro-Scout 3.

Amber: “When our league was suspended the whole squad was given training programs. After nine or ten weeks of individual work we were allowed to get back into group training. This all started four or five weeks ago and we started back playing games two weeks ago. It has been a really busy few weeks for us.”

Amber: “This has been such a strange experience. If you told me two months ago that I would be back playing games, I wouldn’t have believed you. At this stage, the whole situation and the restrictions have become normalised to us.”

Amber: “I enjoyed watching the male teams play, as they allowed us to see what was ahead of us. The restrictions, such as wearing face masks and subs having to sit two seats apart, are strange but we have adapted to them.”

One year on from her transfer to Germany, Amber took time to reflect on her career to date and her decision to turn full time as a professional footballer.

Amber: “When I started in college in Maynooth, I had ambitions of playing in the Women’s National League. Peamount are only a fifteen to twenty minute drive from Maynooth so moving to the club was a no brainier. Moving to the league was a completely new experience but it was so worthwhile. I spent six seasons at the club and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Amber: “Making the move to Germany was hard at the start. I have been slowly adapting since. The language barrier was a major issue at the start but I’m getting there. Going from training two to three nights a week in Dublin to training seven or eight times a week in Germany was a big step up.”

Amber: “I really enjoy the professional side of training all the time because you have the space to work on things that you want to get better at. That is one of the main things that I enjoy over here.”

Amber: “I’m giving myself the first season to settle in. There might be aspects that might carry on to next year, but I’m doing my best to keep on top of things.”

Over the next few months, Barrett will also be hoping to kick on with the Girls in Green as they look to make history by qualifying for Euro 2021.

Amber: “Qualifying will do so much good for Irish women’s football. It’s going to inspire the younger generations and inspire them.”

Amber: “To really kickstart things we need something like an Italia 90 moment. Qualifying for a major international tournament is the main aim of the women’s team and we are so close to Euro 2022. We have unfortunate in a few campaigns in recent years. We have always gotten close but could never get it over the line. This time around we have had a near perfect run. I understand that we have Germany left to play, but we know we can get to the finals.”

Amber: “Qualifying will be a great pay back to the people behind the team and the FAI for all they have done over the last number of years.”

Amber: “The quality in women’s football in Ireland has seriously grown over the last number of years. From when I went to Peamount to when I left, there has been a huge increase in quality and I think this is going to continue. The FAI introducing the underage national leagues will improve talent and with more clubs coming into the Women’s National League things are going to get better.”

Amber: “It is really important for Cork City, Galway United, Shelbourne, and UCD to all have male and female teams. That will help grow and promote the women’s game. I am really hopeful things are going to keep improving.”