Lurgan girl Sarah Dickson is shooting for the stars after competition win

Nine-year-old Sarah Dickson from Lurgan has been crowned winner of the Electric Ireland Shooting for The Stars children’s writing competition.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 12:01 pm
Nine-year-old Sarah Dickson with Northern Ireland International women's captain Marissa Callaghan
Nine-year-old Sarah Dickson with Northern Ireland International women's captain Marissa Callaghan

Sarah’s story about a girl who danced her way to footballing success captivated the judging panel which was led by Derry Girls actor and playwright Tara-Lynne O’Neill.

The story will now be illustrated by a professional illustrator, published in association with Blackstaff Press and then distributed through the Irish FA Shooting Stars network as well as being made available to schools and libraries across Northern Ireland

Sarah learned that she had won the competition when Northern Ireland Senior Ladies Captain Marissa Callaghan and teammates Toni-Leigh Finnegan and Abbie Magee made a surprise visit to her school, Carrick Primary.

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She said: “I’m so excited and feel so happy.I thought we were taking part in a football festival, when Marissa called out my name and said I’d won! It’s so exciting, I can’t wait to see my story made into a book!”

The competition, organised by Electric Ireland as part of their Game Changers NI campaign which is in partnership with the Irish FA, supports girls’ and women’s football at all levels, received a great response and the judges said they were faced with tough decisions. It invited children between the ages of 7-11 to create their very own story about girls’ football. Joining Clare and Tara-Lynne on the judging panel were illustrator Rory Jeffers and Gail Redmond, Women’s Development Manager at the Irish FA.

Clare McAllister, Electric Ireland, said: “Sarah’s story stood out for the imagination it showed; she was able to take the theme of girls’ football and weave a story that kept the reader interested from beginning to end. In doing so, Sarah is helping to bring girls’ football to a new audience and that is really important to our Electric Ireland Game Changers campaign as we are all about supporting the women’s game. Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with the illustrator and publisher on the production of the book and very much look forward to making it available widely in Northern Ireland.”

Gail Redmond added: “There were so many great stories to choose from, I’m glad to say we had the opportunity to pick two runners up who will each receive a Northern Ireland kit and, of course, a copy of the book!”