FOOTBALL FAI Women's Development Plan Launched

Minister O’Donoghue Launches FAI Women’s Football Development Plan

Wednesday 14th June, 2006

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O’Donoghue, T.D. today launched the FAI Women’s Development Plan (WDP) at the Irish Architectural Archive Premises, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

The Plan which is to receive Irish Sports Council funding of €250,000, has, among its key objectives:

• Increased participation
• More female coaches
• Revised competition structures
• Clear pathways for players, coaches, referees and administrators
• Introduction of a National League
• Development of Emerging Talent

The focus of the development of the game is on four major areas:

 Introduction to Football
 Club and League Development
 Emerging Talent Programme
 International

As part of the Plan, the FAI recently created a dedicated Women’s Football Unit within the FAI. Noel King now leads a growing team dedicated to the development of the game for girls and women.  The unit has also appointed a National Co-ordinator – Susan Ronan - and has recently advertised to recruit a number of Development Officers to concentrate solely on the women’s game and to assist in rolling out the plan. 

Commenting on the Plan, FAI Chief Executive Officer, John Delaney said, “There is a tangible sense of enthusiasm and expectation around the development of this Plan”.  “While football is the most popular team sport in Ireland, the female game has lagged behind in recent years”, he added.  “We now have the framework for building the female game and getting more girls and women involved”, he said. “Having already seen benefits from the involvement of representatives of the women’s game in the FAI structures, we want to ensure that this is grown and replicated at club and league level throughout the country”, he said.  Delaney also said that “everyone recognises the follow on benefits of more participation in terms of health and well-being together with the positive impact of more participation on our communities”.

The Chief Executive Officer also paid tribute to Minister O’Donoghue and John Treacy in the Irish Sports Council for their support of this ambitious programme.  “While the FAI has been successful in re-investing revenues earned in the development of the game, programmes which will have a major impact on our game and the thousands of people involved in the sport do require outside support”, he said.  “The Department of Sport and the Council have been hugely supportive of this key initiative”, Delaney said.  

Noel King, Women’s Unit Manager said “there are now some 40 million female players worldwide and FIFA estimate that by 2010 there will be as many women playing football around the world as men”. “We are now creating the platform to capitalise on the global growth in the game here at home”, he added.

King said that Ireland’s improvement on the international front is one benchmark as to how success will be measured.  “We have made great strides on the international front but there’s also great scope for continuing that upward graph”, he said.

King added, “There are over 12,000 registered women playing football in Ireland with over 570 teams, competing in leagues throughout the country. Our objective is to develop a national league structure and as a result, women’s teams throughout the country can compete at the very highest level”, he added.