Today is International Women’s Day 2023, so to mark the day we asked Connacht Women’s player Fiona Scally to tell us a bit about her life and career in rugby and sport.
Fiona works as Communications & Commercial Executive at Paralympics Ireland, and was recently a member of the Women's squad for the Vodafone Women's Interpros.
Basketball was my number one sport for most of my life. I was lucky enough to have played on underage Irish teams all the way up to senior and I played for the University of Limerick club and college teams while I was a student.
I started playing 7’s rugby in Abu Dhabi for fun when I moved there after college and then picked up 15s rugby a few years later when I moved back to Ireland. Transitioning from basketball to rugby was a challenge but I actually think learning how to play 15s was harder. I’ve had some very patient and supportive coaches over the years which makes all the difference.
My first full season with Connacht was 2021 and there was a lot of restrictions in place, so it was great to get the full experience this year. I don’t think we’ll ever take having a dressing room for granted again! It was an exciting Interpro season, there is so much young talent coming up through the ranks with Connacht which is fantastic to see.
I did a MA in Sports Journalism at the University of Limerick in 2019/20 which led me to my current role with Paralympics Ireland. Working with PI has been an amazing journey so far and it’s only going to get better (and busier) as the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games get closer. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to get our athletes and staff to the games as fully prepared as we possibly can be. It’s great working within the sporting world as they are very supportive with regards my training and game schedule. This is really important because working in communications can at times be a weekend gig and this isn’t always possible when trying to juggle sport too. My day to day is very varied but I love that about the job. Having played sport at a high level I’m able to relate to the athletes, which is important especially on the communications side of things.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is “Embrace Equity.” It’s hard to tangibly compare the men’s and women’s Connacht teams because the men are professional, we’re not and also our season is considerably shorter. I do think that Connacht Rugby have stepped up to the plate to make sure that we have the same opportunities providing us with excellent coaching staff, training facilities, nutrition and physio support during our season. There is a long way to go for the women’s game in Ireland but there is no doubt that the women’s game in Connacht is moving in the right direction.