As thousands of girls and boys around the country get involved with football for the first time this summer, the players with the Ireland Women’s National Team are remembering when it all started for them.
For some it was kicking a ball around in the back garden. For others it was joining friends on the local green. For most, however, it was when they went down to their local Grassroots club. That is when they fell in love with the sport.
The connection with their first clubs has never been lost on the WNT players as they continue preparations for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 – their first ever major tournament.
It is why 15 of the 26 players in Australia pulled on jerseys from their former clubs ahead of their training session in Meakin Park, Brisbane on Monday.
The range of jerseys represented clubs from seven different counties in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Roscommon and Wicklow.
The players wanted to send out a strong message that they would not be where they are now without the support of their Grassroots clubs.
“Grassroots is where it all starts. All of the girls in our squad are so grateful to the many volunteers who helped them along the way and it’s so important that that tradition is maintained, to help inspire the next generation,” said Ireland WNT captain Katie McCabe.
“It is fantastic to see so many clubs now catering for girls and the equal opportunities available. Hopefully our involvement in the World Cup will help many more girls and boys believe that they too can reach the highest level in the game.
“A key part of our journey, from Grassroots to the World Cup, is the people who volunteer at the local clubs. There is always a need for more people to get involved, in a wide range of roles, so if you can get involved to help out then we would encourage you to do so.”
Currently, the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Football Camps are taking place around the country and offering a fun and friendly environment for girls and boys to take that first step in enjoying football.
A Volunteer campaign, which promotes the slogan of ‘Give A Little, Get A Lot’, is also live to help identify your local club and how to get involved. For more information, visit www.fai.ie/volunteers
The players and the jerseys in the picture above, taken by Stephen McCarthy of Sportsfile are as follows:
Back row, from left, Ciara Grant wearing the jersey of Ballyraine FC; Claire O’Riordan wearing the jersey of Newcastle West Town FC; Amber Barrett wearing the jersey of Milford FC; Louise Quinn wearing the jersey of Blessington FC; Diane Caldwell wearing the jersey of Balbriggan FC; Niamh Fahey wearing the jersey of Salthill Devon FC; Heather Payne wearing the jersey of Ballinasloe Town AFC; and Izzy Atkinson wearing the jersey of Rush Athletic FC.
Front row, Jamie Finn wearing the jersey of Swords Manor FC; Denise O’Sullivan wearing the jersey of Wilton United; Áine O’Gorman wearing the jersey of Enniskerry FC, Katie McCabe wearing the jersey of Kilnamanagh AFC; Megan Connolly wearing the jersey of College Corinthians AFC; Chloe Mustaki wearing the jersey of Park Celtic FC; and Abbie Larkin wearing the jersey of Cambridge FC.