Mother-of-eight returns to football in same team as 17-year-old daughter

Sarah O’Hara (left) with her daughter Leonie, who both play for CPDM Llanystumdwy

Mother-of-eight returns to football after a 17-year absence and lines up in the same team as her daughter.

Think I’m making this up? Not at all – read on……

Meet Sarah O’Hara, mum to eight children who recently returned to playing football with Llanystumdwy.

The 41-year-old lined up alongside her daughter Leonie, 17, in a friendly game against Bethel.

Sarah played so well she was named Llanystumdwy’s player of the match and now intends to carry on as her newly-formed team prepares for their debut season in the North Wales Women’s League.

This supermum and wonder woman took time out from her busy life to tell Grassroots North Wales about her return to the beautiful game.

So what was it like, 17 years since you played football, getting out there again for Llanystumdwy recently AND playing alongside your daughter Leonie!

My first game back after about 17 years of not playing was an amazing moment for me as a mum as I was able to play alongside my daughter Leonie O’Hara, who is nearly 17.

I will admit I was a little bit nervous as I wasn’t sure if I was fit enough or good enough to still be part of a team. I loved every minute of it on the pitch just as much as ever. It was a brilliant feeling being back on the pitch and playing the sport I love.

You also got Llanystumdwy player of the match! What did you do to earn the award – what did the manager tell you about your performance?

I was later told that I had been given Llanystumdwy woman of the match, which came as a massive shock to me as we have some great players and I had just started so definitely didn’t expect it.

I was obviously thrilled, as was my daughter and my other team-mates. My manager said it was well deserved as I had played brilliantly and covered every blade of grass on the pitch.

I tried my best to support my team-mates all over the pitch and worked as hard as I could to stop a very good Bethel side.

It was an unusual experience for me being the one on the pitch with lots of my children watching and supporting me for a change.

You come from a football family. Tell us about your well-known brother Mark and also your sister Katy, who I believe played for Pwllheli in the 2006 Welsh Cup final?

I am from a very large family. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters, and we all love to watch or play football.

We spent hours together when we were growing up in Garndolbenmaen, playing in the football field with our friends every minute we could get.

Katy Godfrey

This obviously helped us all as my little sister Katy Godfrey went on to play for Wales, Pwllheli and Bethel Ladies, where she is very well known as being an amazing player.

My brothers Mark and Trystan Godfrey have also both played for local teams and are still scoring goals for Llanystumdwy, which Mark has been doing for years now.

I am very proud of how well they have all done with their football.

Back in 2009 Sarah played in the Penrhyndeudraeth mums team with sister Katy

I on the other hand played for a few teams when I was younger such as Penrhyn and had a few games for Pwllheli when I was older where I was lucky enough to play with my sister Katy, but I decided to spend my time watching my children play rather than carry on playing myself, which I have loved every minute of and still do.

My son Carl O’Hara plays for Porthmadog reserves, Ryan O’Hara plays for CP United, a team in Manchester for children and adults with Cerebral Palsy, and my younger son Adam O’Hara plays for Porthmadog U13’s.

Being a mum of 8 children makes time for me to play football a little bit challenging but luckily my daughter Leonie said that she wanted to join the Llanystumdwy Ladies team, so I thought I would join her just for a bit of fun and fitness and see how I felt about joining.

How is Leonie coming along as a player? Do you have high hopes for her?

My daughter Leonie O’Hara has been playing football for a few years now with Porthmadog and has improved her game in so many ways.

She is stronger, more competitive, much more confident on the ball, brilliant at tackling which she seems to enjoy practicing on me in training.

She is really starting to understand the game and enjoys playing as much as I do. I can already see her confidence coming through and believe that being part of this great team will help her in so many ways.

I look forward to watching her play and progress with every season.

What about yourself? Are you carrying on playing? Would you recommend to ladies who have not played for a long time to get back into football like you have?

I am not too sure how many seasons I’ll have left in me.

I’m just going to enjoy every game I can get through without any injuries and enjoy making new friends and being part of a brilliant team.

We have a really good team morale building at the club at the moment, getting to know each other and starting to work well as a team.

Luckily for Leonie and I, Llan ladies are a really lovely group and we have felt welcomed from the first training session we came to.

We have great managers who push our fitness, work on improving our game but also make it fun.

As a team we are going from strength to strength with a positive attitude and are all really looking forward to the games ahead of us.

I was a little apprehensive about joining a team at my age of 41, as I think most women would be, especially when most of the team are young enough to be my daughter, funny enough one of them actually is, which I think amazed some of my team-mates and believe is a first for Llanystumdwy ladies.

Sarah (front row – third from left) and Leonie line up for Llanystumdwy before a mini-tournament in Nefyn

I would actually like to know how many other mothers have been lucky enough like me to play in the same team as their daughter.

I’ve loved every minute so far and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves playing football or would like to give it a try.

It’s good mentally and physically and brilliant being part of such a great team. I have already encouraged a few other mums to come training with us and am hoping a few more may be inspired to join a local team near them.

And finally, tell us about your strengths and weaknesses as a player… there anything you still hope to improve on?

As a player myself I feel I have lots I need to improve on, especially as I have been out of football for so long.

I have been playing with my children every so often, so have been lucky enough to keep some of my ball control and fitness, which has helped.

My manager says my strengths are stamina, positional awareness, tackling and speed, however I need to work on my ball control still and my fitness as I am nowhere near as fit as I need to be,

I also need to work on my strength on and off the ball, headers and shots.

However, I’m positive that over the next season with the help of my managers and team-mates these are things that I will manage to achieve.

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