Saturday 18 November 2017

Offaly star giving it socks to create life beyond football

Offaly's Niall McNamee hopes to go beyond football by succeeding with his sports brand
Offaly's Niall McNamee hopes to go beyond football by succeeding with his sports brand Newsdesk Newsdesk

I'm excited getting out of bed every morning and that's what I always wanted but for a long time it wasn't the case. So I'm very grateful for where I am right now."

When Offaly star Niall took to the training pitch last summer and noticed an emerging trend amongst his team-mates, he didn't know that less than a year later he'd have established his own sports brand.

Twelves is still in its infancy at just seven months old but it's growing fast, and much of that is down to Niall having "faith in himself" and "trust that it will all work out".

"I had noticed going training that a lot of players, and in particular the younger lads, were wearing a shorter, shin high socks, instead of the traditional knee length socks. I decided to try them out myself for a while and thought they were nice to wear but when I looked into it a bit more there were only a handful of colours available so I suppose I saw this as an opportunity."

He wasn't long establishing his brand 'Twelves' and vying for a foothold in the sports sock market in Ireland. "I started small and since then I have built up the range and I'm glad to say things are going from strength to strength"

Initially there were 10 variations of the short sock but that has now grown to 23 and he has also added in a range of hats.

"Our aim is that every product we bring out will help and improve the athlete, whether they're an inter-county player or regular gym-goer.

"My hope is that this time next year we'll have gear in every sports shop in the country. That's where I see Twelves going over the next couple of years so I'm excited about that."

McNamee sprung to prominence not just because of his footballing prowess for Offaly, but because of his openness and honesty around his struggle with gambling addiction, and this is reflected in the creation of the Twelves brand.

"I kind of wanted to take it away from me, I wanted it to be a brand of itself. Twelves is a recovery programme that I have been following for the last couple of years of my life, so it's something that's very close to my heart."

He continues: "I'm delighted with how the brand has turned out, both the logo and the name. It's not necessarily how I imagined it would turn out but it has turned out absolutely perfect for what I'm hoping to achieve."

There's more to Niall than Twelves though and this is evident on his website at which also has sections on his business coaching and public speaking.

"Emotional well-being and addiction are areas I'm passionate about I'm privileged that I get to speak to groups throughout Ireland."

Priorities are often hard to get straight for an inter-county player, and his journey was nothing out of the ordinary, with football coming first for a long time, and everything else coming second. "Work was about punching in the hours and doing enough and my life basically revolved around football. It's not a good way to be in my experience, any disappointment from football would really affect other aspects of my life."

Niall's outlook on football has changed and while he hasn't lost his focus, he has just found a new perspective on things. "My career is hugely important for me now and it's probably something that for years I didn't put enough focus on.

"I know myself a lot more now, and I know that there is a life beyond football. As result, I'm enjoying my football much more in the last couple of years because I have put the structures in place off the field.

As the old saying goes, "there's a time and a place for everything", and that is definitely Niall's outlook.

"There is a time when I'm fully focused on football, but there's also a time when I'm fully focused on my career or my relationships."

Niall's story is one that has had a few plot twists, but there's no doubt that his future narrative will be fresh, colourful and inspirational.

In focus . . .

What I listen to: Listen to anything, literally anything.

The last book I read: Wishes Fulfilled

Favourite sport other than GAA: Golf.

What I love about football: The skills and the friendships .

What I hate about football: I don't think I hate anything. I'm intrigued by it.

If I could change one thing about football: That teams and coaches put more emphasis on developing a player's skills.

My advice for young players: Practise the skills and play as often as you can.

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