Sport for Business, in partnership with Liberty Insurance, has begun the publication of our annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport.
This is not about Women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport. We will identify leaders on and off the field of play. They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play. They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful.
That was some week that Emma Byrne put down. She is the most decorated Irish footballer in the history of the game with 127 caps for her country, twice voted Players Player of the Year by her peers in the English club game, an eleven time League title winner and with a EUFA Women’s Champions’ League Medal to add to the collection.
Her professional career spans nearly 20 years years and today she will take to the field as captain once more of the Republic of Ireland Women’s Senior Team.
All of that alone would merit a place on this list but in the wake of the stand for the right of the Women’s team to fair treatment from the FAI, her influence has moved up a significant amount.
As team captain she was to the fore in the call for better treatment that captured national and worldwide attention last week. Having enjoyed such an illustrious career she was probably the player least in need of the match payments and kit but that was immaterial.
Hers was the voice calling out the unfairness of the initial decision three years ago to remove the match payment, her career continued so perhaps that gave her the courage to lead the team off the field again and into the storm of publicity that ultimately helped to win the right result.
Her playing career has entered a new phase, leaving Arsenal in December and starting with Brighton and Hove Albion with a new coaching responsibility as well.
Byrnes is a regular pundit on Eurosport coverage of the Women’s game and studying for a career in media when she does hang up her boots.
Everything she has done in her career to date suggests that she will be a winner in that too.
For 2017 we are extending the recognition given to women who are taking a lead role in sport by also identifying 50 of the next generation that are coming through, at pace, to make their mark within sport.
We want your help in making sure that this list is representative and you can make your nominations for who you think should be included right here.