It was the cherry on top of a year like no other when SoftCo announced yesterday they were to extend their sponsorship of the Irish Women’s Hockey team through to at least 2021.
The company came on board six weeks before the run to the World Cup Final that was the Irish sporting story of the year.
The coverage they obtained around the world was immense as was the credit they received from management and players for having given them the confidence that someone believed they were worth investing in.
Speaking in an exclusive Sport for Business interview at the time SoftCo Co-Founder Susan Spence explained the rationale behind their backing.
“We like to support local and support our people and we back Monstown Hockey Club as a sponsor through our SoftCo Foundation.”
“That prompted Hockey Ireland to approach us with the offer of backing the Women’s National team and when we looked at what they had achieved in getting to a World Cup it looked like a good fit.”
“We hadn’t been aware that there was no sponsorship and we were surprised by that.”
“We had supported the U21 team in the past with some measure of backing but that opened our eyes to the difference in how teams playing at this level are supported in Ireland as opposed to by other nations.”
“We felt that by backing the Irish team at the World Cup that we could bring them just a little closer to the level of backing that their rivals would be enjoying.”
“Being allowed to display the SoftCo logo on the shirts is a big plus given the amount of coverage the tournament will attract.”
“Playing against the United States and England in the Group stage at the London Olympic Arena also gives us a platform to entertain key clients in two of our most important international markets and reach out to them with a statement that at this world-class level, SoftCo is a player.”
“Our clients are Governments, Lloyds Bank, Primark and others of that stature. You can never know whether the key people like rugby or golf or opera but supporting at a world-class level in any field is a statement.”
The extension of the partnership announced yesterday will incorporate the 2019 European Championships and the team’s qualification campaign to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will get underway in Ireland between June 8th and 16th. The team will be part of an eight-team FIH Hockey Series Finals event in Dublin with two teams progressing to a head-to-head Olympic qualification event in October/November 2019.
SoftCo has been involved with grassroots hockey for 15 years but the step up to the national team came at a moment that few could have foreseen.
Their achievement brought the country to a halt in August and has since been recognised at both the RTÉ and Irish Independent Sports Awards with recognition as Team of the Year.
Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign will begin with a competitive match series in Santiago, Chile in January.
“SoftCo’s support of the Green Army was of real benefit in the immediate run-up to the World Cup and at the tournament against the best teams in the world.,” said Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels.
“We are now looking to build on that success with the immediate goal being qualification for the Olympics. We are delighted to once again have SoftCo’s support during an extremely important time for the team.”
“We were so proud of the team in their run to the World Cup final during the summer,” added Spence.
“An Irish team achieving success on the world stage was a true inspiration to us all. This is a further significant investment to assist the team to reach its ambitious goals. We are delighted to be extending our support.”
Image Credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho.ie