Programme aimed at increasing women’s participation in sport in Donegal

Pictured at the launch of Donegal Sports Partnership’s new programme aimed at increasing women’s participation in sport in Donegal at Letterkenny Town Park on Monday are from left, Laura Deeney, Donegal Sports Partnership & Basketball Ireland; Mary T Doherty, Donegal Sports Partnership and DCU, Margaret O’Donnell, Donegal Sports Partnership and Letterkenny Parkrun; Nikki Bradley, The Motivation Factory and Triathlon Ireland; Anne McAteer, Chairperson Donegal Sports Partnership; DCU Siobhan Cullen, Head of Department of Law and Humanities; Maggie Farrelly, Donegal Sports Partnership and GAA; Deirdre O’Toole, Donegal Sports Partnership and Portsalon Golf Club and Teresa McDaid, High Performance Coach Athletics Ireland.

Donegal Sports Partnership is inviting females to take part in a new programme aimed at increasing women’s participation in sport Donegal.

With the support of Sport Ireland and Dormont Accounts Fund, the initiative is being developed to support females interested in getting involved in sport at a level appropriate to their needs and abilities.

The Beyond 20x 20 – Women in Sports Leadership programme will form part of the national 20 x 20 campaign and is open to females aged 16 and over with a passion, commitment and genuine interest in sport at all levels.

“The initial phase of the programme is a call out for female participants to send on a short bio and what their ambitions are for such a programme,” Donegal Sports Partnership Co-Ordinator, Myles Sweeney, commented at the launch.

“We are keen to explore from potential participants the barriers they are currently experiencing in getting into sport or in maintaining an involvement in sport. We are seeking to develop a needs analysis with individual women to support us in designing a programme which will be delivered on a part-time basis commencing in February and which will run over a period of eight months.”

“The overall aim is to keep challenging the current culture of women’s participation in sports leadership and to further reduce the gender gap. According to the Irish Sports Monitor, 40.8 per cent of females participate regularly participate is sport. The findings also indicate a decrease in the gender gap from 15.7 per cent to 4.5 per cent since 2007 which is a positive trend. However, a number of gaps have emerged within sport especially around coaching, officiating, leadership, governance and visibility which have seen limited or low numbers of women,” he added.

A number of topics including health and well-being, women in sports leadership, education and learning and communication have emerged as potential learning modules. Participants will also be supported and mentored through community placement with Sports Clubs, National Governing Bodies of Sport or with Donegal Sports Partnership.

“We have also garnered support nationally from key female leaders making an impact in sport such as Mary O’Connor, Federation of Irish Sport CEO and Nora Stapleton, former IRFU international and Women in Sport Lead to talk to the participants,” Mr Sweeney said.

The 20 x 20 campaign has three objectives – a 20 per cent increase in media coverage of women in sport, a 20 per cent increase in female participation at all levels of sport and a 20 per cent increase in attendance at women’s games and events.

As the Chair of the Donegal Sports Partnership, Donegal Sports Partnership Chairperson, Anne McAteer has welcomed the initiative.

“Since its early set up, Donegal Sports Partnership has promoted the role of women in sport and always strives for the inclusion of women and girls in their programmes. The 2020 campaign recognises that there are still significant barriers to female participation and that the rates for girls and women drop from as early as their teenage years,” she said at this week’s launch.

“This campaign will ensure that women of all ages can participate at all levels of sport in the county – not just as players but also as administrators and officials and that they become visible in these roles. In promoting the leadership role of women through this exciting programme, Donegal Sports Partnership will pay further attention to ‘minding the gaps’ when we lose female participants of all ages. This impacts negatively on individuals and brings increased risks in terms of the person’s health and wellbeing,” the chairperson added.

She continued: “Increasingly, it is recognised that sport and physical activity play a key role in the promotion of both physical and mental health. For our young girls, the visibility of role models is critical in terms of encouraging their participation. The tagline ‘if she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ recognises the importance of the media ensuring coverage of female sports at local, national and international level.

“Here in Donegal we have Olympians including Bridie Lynch, Chloe Magee, Maria McCambridge and Sinead Jennings, and our senior football team with players like Karen Guthrie. All of these represent what can be achieved when girls and women are supported in their sporting development. This new programme from Donegal Sports Partnership will contribute significantly to achieving the goals of 2020 here in Donegal.”

For further information on Donegal’s Sports Partnership’s new programme, contact 074 9116077/78 or email info@activedonegal.com