Irish Women’s Hockey received another boost yesterday with the announcement that Park Developments, one of Ireland’s leading property development groups is to back the players through a four-year bursary scheme.
The scheme will see an initial group of 23 players supported between now and the conclusion of the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in December.
The funding is guaranteed for four years and will supplement the support provided to the Irish Women’s Hockey Team by Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland.
Softco extended their sponsorship of the Women’s team through to the Olympic Games next year at the end of 2018 having enjoyed the fruits of supporting the team through their high profile run to the World cup Final in London last summer.
The Irish team’s first attempt at qualification gets underway on 8th June at an FIH Series Tournament in Banbridge. Ireland need to reach the final of the Banbridge tournament to earn a place at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament later this year.
“Like so many, we at Park Developments were inspired by the performance of the Irish Women’s team at the World Cup last summer,” said Jilly Cotter, Sales and Marketing Manager speaking to Sport for Business yesterday.
“We are delighted to be on board for four years. One of the key issues for them was getting time together at training and building up their spirit as a team.”
“The bursary will allow them to do that without losing out financially through taking time away from work.”
“We are strongly focused on building communities and we see the value that sport has in doing that.”
“We have built over 15,000 residential units and within all of the developments, we have a commitment to public space. Sport can often be a part of that and can be crucial to building a sense of community.”
“At a national level this is a new departure for us but we have supported a number of youth teams at a local level in Gaelic Games and Rugby in particular.”
It was interesting to pose the question as to whether this was just related to the Women’s side of the sport. The question was rarely asked in the opposite direction when support was announced for a Men’s team.
The men did attract sponsorship from Turkish Airlines for their appearance at the World Cup in India at the end of last year but have lagged behind the women in attracting commercial support.
“It’s not a case of not supporting the men but the inspiration for the bursary and the work we put into determining what would work best was inspired by the success of the Women,” said Cotter
“We are delighted that the Park Developments Irish Women’s Hockey Bursary Scheme is now a reality and hope it will have a positive impact on the current squad on their journey to Olympic qualification.”
Management of the detail behind how players can avail of the assistance will be managed by Hockey Ireland.
Image Credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho.ie