Hockey Dreams Now Soaring

Last night on a hockey pitch in East London Ayeisha McFerran did as much for the iconography of Irish sport as Packie Bonner did 18 years ago in Genoa. Her three saves in the shoot out which saw Ireland progress to the semi final of the Women’s Hockey World Cup were as brilliant as they were crucial and the confidence of her team mates after the game gave rise to the crazy notion that this might not yet have been the high point.

RTE Sport brought live coverage into homes and onto screens across the country and will hopefully be able to do likewise for the Semi Final against Spain on Saturday.

After that it gets tricky as we are running out of channels. The All Ireland Hurling semi final replay has already shifted the Super 8 Football clashe between Donegal and Tyrone to RTE One and the game between Dublin and Roscommon to the player. All three will be on at the same time as the Hockey World Cup Final were that crazy dream come to pass.

Our friends at Sportego published interesting findings of the social media impact the team have had on sponsors SoftCo over the past two weeks.

The SoftCo decision to back the team has delivered a strong lift in terms of profile, helped by the social media being run by Alex Sherwood from London as well as media including The Hook by Stephen Findlater and in the mainstream.

Engagement rates on twitter of .064% & .16% in April and May have increased to 1.81% and 1.67% in June and July.

The highest engagement per post went from a low of .48% through 6 Likes and retweets in April to 27.4% and 341 likes and retweets in July.

A total of 1,568 engagements in June and July on Twitter compares to only 133 in April and May.

Softco’s social reach from mentions in April and May was 22.2k from 3 key mentioners (GavinMoynihan, irishhockey & maxwellpix ). This jumped to 200k in June and July with the International Hockey Federation, Colette Sexton and our own Sport for Business account driving strong engagement numbers.

Nikki Evans delivered 180 Likes and RTs from two posts while Colette Sexton’s piece on how brands were finally seeing women’s sport as a good sponsorship opportunity had 97 likes and retweets.

SoftCo’s partnership runs just to the end of the year but with a new level of interest and performance only two years out from the Tokyo Olympics it has to be hoped that the idea of an extension has already been discussed.

The Men’s team will play in their own World Cup later this year and remain, for now, without a sponsor but Hockey has finally reached a point in mainstream consciousness to back up the strong demographic it has always had, making potent appeal for sponsors.

These things don’t always happen, as was the case with Rowing that is yet to secure a big brand title sponsorship but the value that can be gained is being seen by every sponsorship manager, and many CEO’s, and perhaps the idea of niche is gaining the traction it deserves.

It’s an idea we will be returning to again and again for for now, and this weekend the message has to be simply Come on the #GreenArmy.

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Image Credit: Gymnastics Ireland

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