Some of the players who will appear in this weekend’s opening round of the TG4 Ladies Gaelic Football All Irelands will have travelled an average of 1,500 kilometres to attend training and received not a cent towards their travel expenses.

This is one of the sobering statistics revealed this morning in a survey of players undertaken by the Women’s Gaelic Players Association.

The Levelling the Field Report was conducted early in 2020, prior to the onset of Covid-19, and highlights the commitment and costs now required to play at the highest level.

The data will now be used to develop a long-term strategy to enhance the experiences of female inter-county players and ensure their voices are heard by decision-makers, maximizing the opportunity to bounce back from the pandemic and lockdown in a better way.

Among the key findings of the report are that players spend up to 3.7 hours training and travelling each day and that they do so five or six days each week in peak season.

• 74% are so tired from the mental demands that they struggle to work or study,
• 80km is the average round trip to training to over three group sessions per week,
• 93% of players not in receipt of any travel expenses,
• Up to €200 per week is spent on fuel costs to accommodate training,
• 77% of players pay towards their own physio services,
• 69% of players pay towards their own gym fees,
• 55% pay for their own medical treatments,
• 34% take part in marketing and promotional activity linked to their sport and of these 65% do not receive any compensation.

534 members completed an online survey, the largest study into the experiences of female intercounty players since the ‘Making Things Better’ report in 2014.

Since then, the Intercounty Government Grant Scheme has been introduced; a team-based grant to support access to professional services and specialist facilities. Over 90% of players have reported improved standards as a result.

However, it remains a challenge that male players receive over four times more investment through government funding than female players (€3m v €700k in 2020).

Recommendations arising from the report to support female intercounty players include:

• Lobbying government to increase funding for female players through the grants scheme to achieve more equitable balance in comparison to male counterparts
• Introduction of a practical player expenses model, by identifying and implementing collaborative funding solutions.
• Progress on minimum standards, via a squad charter, rate cards and injury funds.
• Devising best practice for supporting high-performance players through all of their sporting commitments.
• One player’s voice, with the integration of the male and female playing bodies, to act as a leading advocate on equality in Gaelic Games.

“These findings clearly demonstrate the increasingly unsustainable demands of the female inter-county games,” said WGPA President Maria Kinsella.

“We fully appreciate there are no short term solutions to a lot of the issues identified and on the back of a trying year, it will be a challenge for us all to ensure that the interests of female players remain on the agenda as we rebuild. We look forward though to working with our partners and players to achieve the aims outlined.”

“There has been significant conversation and concentration on female sport in the last number of years, in particular with the new Women In Sport policy from Sport Ireland and the 20×20 campaign, which came to a close last week,” said Cork All-Star Camogie Goalkeeper Aoife Murray

“It’s now time to build on this momentum and ensure that practical steps are taken to work towards equality in Gaelic Games”

Dublin Ladies Football Captain Sinead Aherne added that “for all the challenges, players continue to love playing for their county and representing their clubs and families on the biggest stage.”

“All players are seeking is an equality of opportunity, an equal footing to allow us to perform to the best of our potential. Enhanced investment will lead to higher standards for players, a better quality product which is more attractive to supporters and sponsors alike and ultimately, the continued growth of our games.”

Join us later for a special interview with WGPA President Maria Kinsella on this subject.

Sport for Business Partners