Women’s soccer in Ireland has received a major boost with the coming on board of Continental Tyres as the title sponsor of the Women’s National League, the Continental Tyres Women’s FAI Cup and of the elite camps that are developing talent such as those who made it to the semi finals of the recent European U19 Championships.
It is a significant advance for the Women’s side of the sport and evidence of the potential now being recognised within Women’s sport generally by major commercial backers. Aon, Liberty Insurance, AIB and Tesco are among others to have signed up to back Women’s sport over the past two years.
Continental Tyres are a serious player in the sponsorship of soccer and their signing is great credit to the FAI’s commercial team who secured the deal.
The company was an original backer of the UEFA Champions’ League and has now become one of the most trusted and recognised brands in the game through long term and ongoing partnerships with the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships.
Three years ago the company recognised the value of supporting Women’s soccer and signed deals with the FA in England and in its home market of Germany to back two of the most advanced Women’s Leagues in Europe. Ireland is now the third League to receive such backing and will benefit from the experience that the Continental team will bring to being active partners.
“We wanted to see evidence of real intent behind the development of the Women’s game and we found that in Ireland as we have in England and Germany,” said Continental Tyres Sales and Marketing Director Guy Frobisher speaking to us yesterday at the Aviva Stadium.
“The FAI have shown us that they have a clear vision and existing structures through which we can help them to really build the game.”
“This partnership is not just about awareness. It’s about a relationship that will help build belief and trust in the sport, the coaches, the teams and, as a result, the Continental Tyres brand.”
The deal is for an initial four years and will be activated by the same teams that have been working alongside the FA in England on the growth and development there of the Women’s Premier League.
Nine players from the Continental Tyres Women’s National League were part of the Irish team that beat Slovakia 2-0 in their World Cup Qualifier at Tallaght Stadium. They are part of a group of 12 players that come together each week for special training at the National Sports Campus as well as with their own clubs.
“This is the fourth year of the Women’s National League and we are seeing step changes in quality and standards each year,” said Sue Ronan, Manager of the National Team.
“Our elite camps which are now being backed by Continental Tyres are a big part of that, bringing talented players together and teaching them not only the skills of the game but also about nutrition, injury prevention and lifestyle choices that will help them develop a strong future in the game.”
“The performance of our U19 team, beating England, Spain and Sweden en route to their Euro Championship semi final was evidence of what we are capable of and this support will be of huge benefit in raising every aspect of the game.”
“We have worked on grassroots programmes elsewhere which we hope to roll out in Ireland as well,” added Frobisher. “These have included Festivals of football for younger girls that can be attracted to think about football as a sporting and a healthy lifestyle and social choice.”
Continental Tyres had sales of €33 Billion in 2013 and employs 186,000 people in 49 countries around the world. Their coming on board as a partner of the FAI and the Women’s game in particular is a real statement of intent on what the FAI can deliver in the domestic market and as a example of what is possible in other European countries.
UEFA was present at yesterday’s launch as part of it’s long term commitment to supporting the Women’s League. the success of their backing will be seen in Switzerland tomorrow when Raheny United go into the draw for the knock out stages of the UEFA Women’s Champions’ League.
The opening fixtures in the Continental Tyres Women’s National League take place this weekend when Raheny take on Castlebar, the new UCD Waves host Galway WFC and Wexford Youth Womens AFC play Cork City.
Throughout the season Sport for Business will continue to focus on the development of Women’s Sport. Over the coming months we will have interviews with leading figures in the game and shine a spotlight on what Continental Tyres and the FAI are doing to support them.
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