The New Year is always a time for new beginnings and so it is this year for Sharon Hutchinson. For the last three years, she has run SportsWomen.ie, a website exclusively highlighting the stars, teams and issues around women in sport.
On Friday she announced through the site and via her social media channels that the site was to close.
Hutchinson has poured a huge amount of time and effort into the website and into the promotion of Women’s sport. She has appeared on our Most Influential Women in Irish Sport for the work she was doing and her enthusiasm will be missed.
Writing her last editorial she spoke of “The website has been a labour of love and it would not have been possible without my band of volunteers, my team of writers, and my supporters, who got what sportswomen.ie was all about. This goodwill has got the project so far but as a social entrepreneurial enterprise, unfortunately, it is not paying its way and so we have decided to call it a day.”
This will not have been an easy decision but the end of every chapter is the start of another and we wish Sharon well in her next endeavours.
Building a business in a niche environment requires a huge amount of energy as well as the support of people across a range of areas. There will always be days when that energy seems too much to give and then it is the strength of that support that gets you through.
There always comes a time when you have to look at how it is impacting on other areas of who you are. You only get one shot in this game of life and you have to do what is best for you.
Hutchinson has left the stage in this form but there should be a space for her in the ongoing promotion and building of the position of women in sport.
She spoke of 2017 having been a year of great progress and that is the case. In Ladies Football the numbers attending the All Ireland Final and those watching it were higher than ever before. Ireland hosted the Women’s Rugby World Cup and our soccer team has started its World Cup Qualification campaign in a style that demands greater support from all of us as sports fans.
Hear the thoughts of Head of Women’s Football at the FAI, Sue Ronan and many more leaders in sport at our Sporting Year Ahead breakfast event on Thursday morning, January 18th. Reserve your place today.
Our list of the Most Influential Women in Irish sport shows once again that sport and the business of sport are not and should not ever be defined by gender.
The decision by World Rugby to expand its own ruling Council by opening up to new members so long as they are women means there will be a more diverse way of thinking brought to bear.
Hutchinson writes of her belief that a body whose mission is the promotion of women’s sport in Ireland needs to be set up with government support. Through this body it would help to deliver sport and exercise to every girl in this country, it would help to fund girls equally when it comes to sport, whatever the sport. Sport Ireland has done some work in this area but it needs to put it front and centre. An important step would be to have more women on the governing boards across all sport and to finance the women in sport initiative to a far greater extent.
Few would argue with these objectives but it is always easier to say than to get them done, particularly in a complex world where there are so many areas of needing to do things better as a society.
One thing she also suggests though that we can do, as individuals, and without the need for any support other than our own will is to “get out there and support our female athletes, support your daughters, sisters, nieces and friends. Get out on the sidelines and cheer them on.
“If you are a female get involved in your sport, become a volunteer, coach, take on a role of responsibility. There are many great men in these roles but we need more women taking on these roles and in particular those that are part of the decision making process.”
“Media outlets, continue to promote women’s sport through your articles, photos, coverage. As they say “if you can see it you can be it”.”
We will do those things, and 2018 will be another year of progress. It’s a shame that Sportswomen.ie will not be there to push, shove, cajole and shine its spotlight.
It has done a great service down these past three years and we wish Sharon all the very best in whatever comes next.
Image Credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho Photography