Whenever Jack McCaffrey’s name appears in print, the words 'Dublin footballer' tend to precede it. The Dubliner though feels there is much more to him and his teammates, their summers spent entertaining the nation with their expansive and open style of football may be why his name his known, but football does not consume his life in the way some might expect.
McCaffrey strives hard to achieve a workable balance between the time he dedicates to his hobby of playing football and the time he spends on the wards as a doctor in Drogheda. McCaffrey plays football for fun, something that is next to near impossible to do if he dedicates every waking moment to what started as a hobby as a kid in Clontarf.
Joint research conducted by the GAA and ESRI study found that playing football was putting serious strain on other aspects of some player’s lives. Data collected from interviewing players found that some spent as much as 31 hours per week in aspects relating to training and gym work.
For McCaffrey, football adds to his life, it doesn’t take away: “I think there are allowances made, we have lads on the team that might have to travel occasionally because of work and the trust is there that nobody is going to use it as an excuse to get out of anything and say ‘I have a work gig’ and take the piss with that, everyone is fully committed to Dublin team but it’s just an unavoidable part of life in an amateur sport that you have a profession.
“Jim is very keen on the work life balance, even Jim and other members of the management team will miss sessions occasionally because they have work commitments and everyone understands that we’re all in the same boat, I don’t think you can question anyone’s commitment because they miss something due to work, they’re fully on board and everyone understands that.”
In 2016 McCaffrey took a year out to travel to Ethiopia with the charity GOAL before moving to Kenya and Zambia to work a placement position at a medical centre as part of his degree before holidaying in Malawi. Since graduating with a degree in medicine from UCD, the former Footballer of the Year went to work in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. He’s enjoying his life off the pitch as much as he’s enjoying life on it:
“It’s fantastic, it’s a really good work environment, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a bit different having to get up every morning as opposed to the college lifestyle where you can do on as many holidays and stay in bed if that’s what catches your fancy but it’s been a very enjoyable and different challenge.”
Finding a work life balance has not proved to be a struggle for the Clontarf man, working in paediatrics has helped him put many aspects of life into perspective:
“Paediatrics is a fabulous environment to work in, the people you meet are some of the most incredible people you’ll come across, it can be tough and I’m sure as you progress further along the career ladder and become more senior it becomes tougher, at the moment nobody’s life is in my hands, I’m functioning as part of a team but a very junior member of it.
“You do see some very tough things but you come across that in every aspect of medicine and the great thing about working with children is how quickly they bounce back and the fanstci attitude they have about everything.”
Jack McCaffrey spoke about their All-Ireland success, overcoming injury and the pressure of paediatrics.
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