IT Sligo Sports Scholar Is FAI ‘International Player of the Year’

IT Sligo first year student Emma Hansberry has been named FAI Women’s Under 19 International Player of the Year.

The Castlebar WFC player and Under 19 Ireland vice-captain scooped the prize at the 23rd “Three FAI International Football Awards” televised live on RTE at the weekend.

Top Irish soccer starts including Bolton midfielder Keith Andrews who took the Senior International Player of the Year were at the ceremony to see Emma accept her prize.

“It was a great night. It was just brilliant and I’m delighted to have won,” Emma said she when she returned to lectures at IT Sligo on Monday where she is studying a Health Science and Physiology. “I knew I had been nominated alright but it was a great buzz to find out just at the moment it was announced.”

The award rounded off a memorable few days for Emma, who is from Sligo. Earlier she had learned that she will join IT Sligo’s elite list of Sports Scholars. She has been awarded a Gold Scholarship, the only first year student to receive it this time around.

“That was a greater honour, too, when I found out about that. It was really great news and it’ll be great help to me here in college.”

The U19 team qualified for the European Championships last October when, in Serbia, they played the host nation as well as Cyprus and Latvia. Emma had the honour of captaining the team against Latvia after skipper Denise O’Sullivan was sidelined by injury.

Now she and her team mates are in training for the “elite” phase – which is the last leg before the European finals – in April when they will face stiff competition from Sweden, who won last year’s tournament last year, and two other heavy hitters, Holland and Italy.

“We’re training hard. We’re up every month in Dublin and we are up again this Sunday for four nights training for the matches.

“Sweden, Holland and Italy, the names speak for themselves. They are big names and we know it’s going to be tough so we’re just trying to build up our confidence and train as hard “as we can for this next phase in April.”

President of IT Sligo, Professor Teri Scott congratulated Emma the achievement; “A Player of the Year Award is a prize that every athlete treasures forever.  Emma is one of our rising stars and her achievement brings honour and distinction to her Alma -IT Sligo. This award is a fitting tribute to her talent, dedication and competitive spirit, which are the hallmarks we recognise in our Sports Scholars. We wish Emma every success, especially in the next leg of the European Championships in April.”

“My lecturers here at IT Sligo are really supportive,” Emma said. They don’t mind me going to my training in Dublin or to all my matches – as long as I catch up on the work.”

For more information on the Sport Scholarship Scheme at IT Sligo and the BSc in Health Science and Physiology see www.itsligo.ie

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