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Playing at European Games Esports Championships ~ “An incredible honor” ~ Irish eFootballer Glitch8d

Nollaig ‘Glitch8d’ O’Donnell, 24, from county Cork in Ireland, works as a popular streamer she is when not gaming. She’s proud to fly her country’s flag in Katowice

How do you feel to be part of the Irish team for the #EGE23, part of the European Games?

It’s amazing, honestly, I’m incredibly honored to have this opportunity. It’s funny because I’ve spent most of my life following my sister Rebbecca O’Donnell around, she represents Ireland internationally in karate, and she’s won European and world titles. So, to be on the other side of it now is amazing, she lives in Poland, so she is going to come and watch me now! The roles have reversed a little bit.

Competing at the European Games [sic] is unreal. I am a competitive person and always played traditional sports. I’m a black belt in karate, I played rugby, Gaelic football, I was a runner. But I’ve been unfortunate with injuries. I’m so competitive – I’d watch two flies running up a wall. Sports has always been my thing. I was always big into my soccer, but I’ve always been a big gamer and it’s come back to that.

This is an incredible opportunity for me. It’s incredible to get to be competitive, to represent your country, to put your country’s uniform on, to meet everyone else representing Ireland, and to be in a competitive space.

I watched my sister do it for 10 to 15 years, to be on the other side and have a focus now is really great for me. My parents are very proud. My mum is a karate coach, she also competed internationally, and my elder sister did too. You don’t want to start a fight with us. I’m a black belt and I’m the lowest in the family.

How did you get into gaming?

I got my first PlayStation 2 when I was four. I hardly missed a single console – we had Wii, Nintendo. I was always big into it. When Covid hit, gaming was a way to talk to people and hang out with friends. I was competitive in Fortnite, and I always toyed with streaming. So, I started during Covid, trying to make that my job. I played a lot of eFootball and got back into it. I prefer eFootball to FIFA, I think there is more space for personal improvement. It is harder to play, and more challenging competitively. There is not as much studying of different packets compared to FIFA, it is less complicated. But I like that.

I was approached by Ireland for the international team, and I was very happy. You don’t say no to these opportunities. If they say ‘jump’, I’ll say ‘how high?’. I’m ecstatic. I love to be competitive. This is my world now; streaming is my work – I just stream and go to the gym.

You’re part of the LGBTQ+ community. How welcoming has the gaming world been to you?

The gaming community is unbelievable, been very lucky, people welcomed me wherever I go. Lots of very kind people. If I’m having a crap day, I get on and stream and it puts an instant smile on my face.

In terms of homophobia, I’ve found the gaming world very welcoming. Most people are so kind. In the gaming community in Ireland, people honestly don’t care. There’s always the odd one or two people online, but that’s the way it is.

I’ve been told by a few people that I’ve helped them come out, which is great. I am my true self, and people appreciate that. I’ve been very open about my sexuality and mental health. People need to see that, and that’s my goal when it comes to content. I think gaming is ahead of a lot of sports in this regard.

I’m a big follower of women’s soccer, that’s an interesting space. Most of it is heading in right direction, whether it’s disability or sexuality.

What are your aims for Katowice?

I’m going for gold! I’m not doing this just to take part. I’ll be happy with whatever happens, as long as I’ve put in the maximum effort, I want to enjoy doing it, too. But I don’t want to go over and do a half job – I’d be upset with myself if I did.

I’m going to do as much work as I can. Some luck is always involved, but whatever happens, happens. This is my first major event, but I would love to carry on and go to the worlds. It’s an honor to compete for my country. I’m going to put my best foot forward. That’s the plan. I train for hours a day and have a good coach. I’m picking up a lot of technical things and I’m very conscious of how I’m playing. I can’t wait.

People around where I live, when I tell them I’m doing this competitively, they often greet me with a blank face – but it is all changing, too. Gaming is definitely up and coming, and events like the European Games Esports Championships are helping to change everything.


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