Last week’s conference on The Business of Women’s Sport has continued to attract comment and discussion across the weekend. Today we reveal eight short, medium and longer term initiatives to emerge, the aim of which will be to raise the level of commercial support to that which is already becoming more the norm elsewhere around the world.
Work has already begun on building an initiative that will be based on a simple online pledge to bring young female relatives, whether they be daughters, nieces, sisters or godchildren to a women’s sporting event. A number of discussions have already begun with commercial backers who see the CSR, staff and marketing promotion benefits of such a scheme and it is expected this will go live in September.
2. Social Media Programmes
A consistent theme throughout the day was the need to work best within media that can be controlled such as social media. Sport for Business has already begun discussions with social media companies and trainers in order to pull together a programme of training and education, aimed specifically at participants and organisers of women’s sporting events. It is already an area where some success has been achieved but more is possible through a coordinated approach.
3. Family Sport
There was discussion around the success of programmes like Gaelic for Mums and Gaelic for Dads and the point was made around the fact that often the most important role models in the life of a young child are their parents. Participation and involvement of children in seeing it are key ways to include sport as a lifelong initiative. We are looking at one plan to integrate this in a participation event that could take place as early as next spring and will reveal more later this year.
4. Creating a single voice
Women’s sport should not be seen as a minority activity but rather as part of sport as a whole. It should not be a debate around men’s sport versus women’s sport. It is part of the overall question of the value of sport within society. Sport for Business will hold discussions with the Federation of Irish Sports and other main sports bodies around ways in which the success stories of sport within Ireland can best be told to those determining policy and exposure that will impact on the next generations.
There should perhaps be greater cooperation between sports governing bodies in terms of approaches to particular sectors around specific events or programmes. Tesco has come on board to support women’s Gaelic football at youth, club and national level to good success. This willingness to engage can be extended by looking as an example to Lidl or Aldi for the Women’s soccer team playing against Germany in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying stages in April 2014. The match will be played here but broadcast live to a German audience of over 10 million viewers. Promotion to home and away audiences can be a major plus for companies looking to enter the value market that women’s sport sponsorship remains.
6. Media Coverage
Rather than bemoaning the lack of mainstream coverage we should discuss with media outlets ways in which the success stories can be told to best effect. Women’s sport provides an excellent level of emotional connection that play’s well in visual media like television. RTE has shown willing in the past to give airtime to Women’s events when capturing the mood of the nation. We believe it now needs to build on that by committing to a target of relative exposure for Women’s sport as it does with Men’s. Coverage of Camogie and Women’s football on the Sunday Game is better for being integrated within rather than tagged onto the end of the programme and we will discuss ways with main broadcasters in which this might be stepped up.
7. Double Headers for Rugby Team
Next spring Italy will bring it’s men’s and women’s rugby teams to Dublin for their respective Six Nations clashes. We propose that the two games be played back to back at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, March 8th. The men’s game is scheduled for 2.30pm and the women’s game could be switched from the previous night in Ashbourne to 24 hours later at the stadium. The RFU does this on a regular basis so there should be no barrier in terms of tournament rules and bringing the Grand Slam Champions together with the side against whom they won the title last year would be a massive statement of intent and equality from the IRFU. If only 10% of the crowd from the men’s game remained on it would mean 5,000 more fans seeing the quality of the sport. There is the potential for it to be many times more.
8. Double Headers in Gaelic Games
Some work has already been done with recent U21 Hurling finals taking place on the same bill as the All Ireland Camogie Finals. The Final day itself is a major one within the sport and care needs to be taken to ensure that the different levels of the sport get their main day in the spotlight. Given the dual Liberty Insurance branding however we feel it is right that a double bill experiment of men’s and women’s quarter or semi finals could be played at Croke Park on one day in August 2014. It would expose the women’s sport to a bigger audience with higher profile and help to further the ambitions of GAA President Liam O’Neill towards the lauded aim of ‘One GAA’.
Coming up from The Business of Women’s Sport:
Tuesday – Programmes to be considered that will make Women’s sport as attractive to commercial partners as it deserves to be
Wednesday – Considered reaction from those who attended and those who listened from afar.
There has been strong mainstream media interest in the day including a main feature article in the Irish Times, in the Irish Examiner and via a lengthy interview with Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business and Mary O’Connor of the Camogie Association on the Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM (at 39 minutes).