The 20X20 initiative is a campaign to raise media coverage, attendance and participation across all Women’s sport. As a long time advocate of parity of esteem, we have been strong supporters of the campaign which is being backed by Sport for Business members including the Federation of Irish Sport, Along Came a Spider, AIG, Three and Lidl.
It’s all about personal commitments to change and ours is the publication of a weekly column looking at different aspects of Women’s Sport both here and around the world that will be relevant in terms of advocacy but also in terms of commercial partnership and sporting administration.
The Dreams of Daughters
Last Saturday I had the pleasure to be involved in the Dublin Camogie Féile. To those who have never been involved in the competition it is just a weekend tournament between U14 teams that takes place in different counties through the spring and ultimately culminates in a John West sponsored National gathering in different locations each year.
To those who have, and this was my tenth, it is a weekend to treasure and a recalibration on the importance of sport.
Féile is one of those creations within the GAA that teaches as much about life and character as the counting of scores and distribution of medals.
It begins a year out with fundraising targets set, bags packed in supermarkets, buns made for sale on the side of pitches, sustainable coffee cups sourced and sold through club shops and any mannaer of other ways to stretch a Euro.
At the start of the year it looms from the fixture list and everything is geared towards it. The competition takes place across boys and girls, big ball and small ball but at heart the magic is the same.
Two months out and we had a gathering of the parents to ensure commitment for the year ahead but most especially so we can field two teams and create a bond within the group that will hold back the wave of teenage reluctance to keep playing when there is so many other things going in around them.
There might be a team trip away with that to the fore. We went to a hostel in Newgrange where we chased around fields with soft arrows, jumped over obstacles and allowed the girls to get a little closer, to cement or indeed create friendships across the boundaries of school and life.
After the fitting of the gear, the stitching of the sponsorship logos and all the work that goes into meeting a hard deadline that actually is a hard deadline, the day draws closer still.
One week out and the gear is handed over. Jerseys, training tops, t-shirts, grips, tracksuit bottoms and a bag to hold it all together.
At our club we brought back a host of our inter county stars to reminisce about their memories of Féile, still vivid in their minds, whether they won or lost.
Then the day itself. At Cuala we hosted the Dublin Division Two group. Eight teams of as many as 23 players each, more gazebo’s than you’d see offered in the aisles of Lidl on a bank holiday weekend and a sense of dizzy excitement.
Imagine 170 13 and 14 year olds warming up by striking sliotars between them, then gathering to march behind the lone piper and standing to face the flag, of course we remembered the flag in the midst of all the county banners, and a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann.
And then the games, a draw against Naomh Barróg, a win against Good Counsel and a defeat to Clontarf. Enough to secure a semi final and one last burst on tired legs.
Feile is fast, there are sandwiches prepared by the age group behind, whose turn will come next year, cakes by the kids and coffee by the mentors devoured or inhaled to keep up the energy.
Don’t forget the face paint and the plaits, whatever it takes.
Our Feile ended at the semi final stage with defeat to a strong Balinteer St Johns side. They scored first and in the fourth game of the day that’s crucial, Coming from behind is harder when brain and body are out of sync through the effort of getting there.
As coaches we took comfort from the fact they went on to win the final. The girls had already moved on.
But you know we are already looking forward to dropping them down to share the memories of last weekend with the groups that will follow in years to come.
It’s a timeless tournament. It’s important though to capture the moment, it’s one you will treasure.
Seat Expands Sponsorship in Spain
Spanish car manufacturer Seat has expanded its involvement in Spanish football by adding the Copa de la Reina, the equivalent of the Women’s FAI Cup to it’s existing partnership with the men’s version, the Copa Del Rey.
Seat sponsored the Final of the men’s tournament for seven years since 2010. It expanded to the whole tournament two years ago and has now included the full Women’s tournament for the first time in a deal that will extend to 2021.
Seat is one of the main sponsors of the Royal Spanish Football Federation, alongside Adidas and CaixaBank.
It’s a likely model of complementary partners that we will see emerging in Ireland with the addition of Boots alongside Three, Aviva and Só Hotels as principal supporters of the Women’s game here in Ireland.
In next week’s 20X20 Weekly we will take a closer look at the advances in Spanish Women’s Soccer and the lessons they might teach us.
Galway Break the Duopoly
The Littlewoods Camogie National Leagues did not start well this year with the failure of Wexford to field a team but they finished in style at Croke Park last weekend when Galway won the Division One title breaking a stranglehold which Cork and Kilkenny have had over the major silverware in the sport for the past number of seasons.
Getting ready for the Liberty Insurance All Ireland Championships it is encouraging to see that there wil be strong competition for the two dominant forces in the game and while the phrase ‘it’s only the League’ can still be heard muttered by those who have lost, it is increasingly seen as an important marker across all the codes of Gaelic Games.
We also want to give a special shout out to Niamh McGrath, who works at Sport for Business member William Fry and who was part of the winning Galway team.
Image Credit: James Crombie, Inpho.ie