Growing Sport and the Gender Question

The Director General of the Camogie Association has come out in support of gender quotas for sporting organisations in her annual report ahead of next weekend’s Congress.

The comprehensive publication goes into detail about the implementation of Our Sport Our Future, the Strategic plan published in 2016 and highlights 21 key performance indicators that need to be managed and improved by 2020 in order to strengthen the game.

These include guaranteeing ‘game time’ at club level starting with a minimum of 12 games per year for all underage players in each age group (U8 – U16); setting a target to promote female Referees by aiming to have 25% of National and Provincial Referees as female and improving the standard of the game by introducing mandatory coaching qualifications for all county teams.


It was a positive year for the sport with a five per cent growth in membership, a 25 per cent rise in attendance at the Liberty Insurance All ireland Final in September, setting a new ten year high with a crowd of 20,037 and a 50 per cent growth in the number of qualified coaches.

Liberty Insurance, Littlewoods ireland and AIB are all now top tier sponsors of inter county and club Camogie and that is an area which will be further bolstered in May with the arrival of a new Commercial head for the sport in Mary O’Toole.

Addressing the issue of Gender Quota’s, which apply to the sport in that only 20 per cent of the main Governing group is male, O’Flynn writes that “Critics can dismiss gender quotas as they may appear to undermine the principle of meritocracy in leadership selection. These arguments fail to acknowledge that other factors including service, longevity, networks, connections, influence are factors in leadership selections and that merit is rarely the sole factor.”

“The Minister’s proposal of 30% women; 30% men and the balance comprising both genders is a step in the right direction.”

“The current situation, where women are un- represented on boards, is not a meritocratic approach.”


“Neither gender has a monopoly of merit or talent.”

“Quotas facilitate women’s merit and talent to be seen and heard in circumstances where these are currently under-represented.”

“Quotas are not a fix-all for sports governance. They are a quick and effective way to improve the situation of under-representation of women, and sometimes men, on boards.”

“Quotas have created change in other sectors. They can create positive and inclusive change in sport too, as a part of a wider and over-arching strategy to strengthen women’s participation in sport.”

The full Ard Stiúrthóir’s Report 2016 can be viewed here and is well worth a read for anyone interested in growing sport and managing it well.

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