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.
In a week where the adversity facing Women in Sport was to the fore, Fiona Coghlan is an appropriate addition to our list of the Most Influential Women in Irish Sport for 2017.
Coghlan was captain of the Irish Women’s Rugby team when they had the journey from hell to get to a Six Nations match against France in Pau in 2012.
They lost that day by a single point but the media storm around the comparison of the treatment faced by the men’s and women’s team gave rise to a new momentum that she was instrumental in harnessing.
Within a year the team had won a first Grand Slam, another 18 months on and they had defeated New Zealand for the first time and reached the semi final of the World Cup.
This year they will host that very tournament with a legacy ambition to have an additional 2017 players registered in the game.
All of that might have happened without Coghlan’s drive and influence, who knows. She would probably be the first to suggest that of course it would but the fact is she was there. She led a group of players, and indeed a sport, from where they were to where they went.
She is a teacher in Lucan but has not gone quietly away from public life. She is an ambassador for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, an Ambassador for Liberty Insurance’s efforts to push parity of esteem for Women in Sport and she is Chair of the Dublin City Council Sport and Wellbeing Partnership.
She persuades people to do the right thing without ever being pushy. She wears the cloak of leadership that came from the rugby scrum comfortably into so many other areas of sporting and public life.
Sport is always a game of inches and the post Pau Irish team could have gone another way. The reality is though that they became winners. They still are and that is a reflection of the leader they had at the time within their ranks.
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.