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At just 19 years old, Paris McCarthy has achieved incredible success across a range of sports, and continues to showcase her abilities all over the world.
This week, it was announced that McCarthy will be heading down to join the Sydney Swans, making her the latest high profile player to join the AFLW’s Irish senior squad.
While this will see Kerry’s championship campaign, as well as her leaving her Basketball in America scholarship with East Tennessee State, McCarthy knows what new experience awaits her in Australia this summer.
It was a young Castleisland Desmonds prodigy with St Mary’s in the Women’s Super League, who caught the attention of American Collages.
Journey in America
“It was on my mind last year, but I obviously didn’t head to America to play basketball. I said I might wait a few years to see how America fares first, and then I’ll decide if I want to go to the NFL.
“I came down south to play Division I basketball, and I was the only international on my team. So that was kind of tough. I think it was a tough experience and i just thought, It would be better if I could go to a place where there is more happiness and stuff.
“We practiced 4-5 hours a day or days it was just basketball, as if there was no freedom at all.
“Most of the time you have to ask permission to go places or even the weekend. Most girls can’t see their families, and if they want to, they’ll have to ask permission.”
At first, the Kerry woman was making quite an impression with her performance on the court. However, a change in manager limited her opportunities, and a hectic schedule in America was a determining factor in her decision to move to Australia.
“I suppose I never got a chance. I think it was due to the fact that I wasn’t American, and I came from Ireland.
“A week before I got to America, my head coach who recruited me got fired. So a new head coach came in, and I think every coach has different mindsets, they might see things in different ways, but she has her team from the start, it was tough.
“I haven’t really thought about it for the past year, but then the last two months since December when the basketball here hasn’t been very good. Hilarious, I decided to see my different options.”
While her basketball experience in America came to an end, McCarthy would continue her progression in the sport alongside her campaign in the AFLW, with her continued progression in basketball a major reason for joining the Sydney Swans.
She also hopes to continue her education in Australia after studying business administration in America.
“I’ve been talking to the head coach of one of the teams and the WNBL, so I’m going to have a tryout when I get back on that, so hopefully it’s all right.
“I still want to play basketball because I want to be able to show that you can play at the same time because a lot of girls do and in the AFLW.
In her first year with the Kerry senior team, the 19-year-old was a key part of the Kerry team that won the National League title and reached the All-Ireland final, losing out to Meath.
In McCarthy’s absence, Kerry have moved from one step to the next, and will face Galway in the Division One final.
With McCarthy making her trip home to Ireland, she will not be part of the Championship campaign, as she prepares for pre-season with the Sydney Swans.
Despite her move to Australia, she thanked her joint directors Darragh Long and Declan Coyle for their understanding of the situation, and vowed to return stronger to Kerry in 2024.
“I suppose just at the timing they want us to go, it’s probably not the best idea to just come back and stay there for a month or two because the girls who’ve been there the whole time have been training.
“I really wanted to be with Kerry because, you know, I look at football, I’ve been training all the time in America. So yeah, it’s kind of tough. I’d like to play both.
“I will still be there to support the girls and the National League Final. Dara and Declan were my two best coaches, and they were very supportive about that.
At such a young age, McCarthy would aim to make another good impact in a new sport. Very few athletes have the elite mentality to support themselves in different sports.
If three sports weren’t enough before she reached her twenties, McCarthy revealed her ambitions to compete in the Olympics in the future, and explained why she believes she can succeed at anything she sets her mind to.
“Personally, I believe that nothing is impossible for anyone. I believe if you put your mind to it, you can do anything.
“There’s a rule that you can’t really be a jack of all trades, but I think you can. I still have two big goals that I want to achieve. I think, to go to the Olympics, and then I want to go to professional basketball in America.”
“I was just looking at different sports and seeing that rugby racing is probably the closest sport that I’m aware of to going to the Olympics for it. So yeah, you never know. Anything can happen in life.