“Kicking Forward” For Success
Some of the most inspiring women within UK and European Football were in Belfast on Saturday for a day of motivation, inspiration, and information.
The purpose of this gathering was the Irish FA’s exciting women in sport seminar “Kicking Forward – the strive for success with women in sport” at the Stormont Hotel, supported by funding from EU peace III via CRC and Pobal in conjunction with UEFA Respect.
Attendees were able to attend a selection of interactive informative workshops on a range of topics including: women in leadership, barriers to participation - routes to inclusion and PR, marketing and media within women's football.
The workshops were facilitated by US Consul General to Belfast, Kamala Lakhdhir; Head of the National Game at The FA, Kelly Simmons and from the local game, Sara Booth (Irish FA Women's Domestic Football Manager) and Rhoda Cassidy (Women's World United).
Lisa Rickett, Irish FA Community Relations Officer said: “The interactive nature of the workshops allowed not only for effective discussion and information distribution, but also for attendees themselves to interact on a personal basis creating new connections and links to support future ideas. There was a really positive atmosphere and determination throughout the day.”
The day's inspirational keynote speakers were, Elaine Junk, Chairperson NIWFA and Steffi Jones, famed German National Team defender and newly appointed UEFA Women's Development Programme Ambassador.
Both spoke passionately and realistically about the current state of women’s football and noted the low levels of females in strategic positions within the higher echelons of sport.
Steffi Jones gave a charismatic address emphasising the importance of continuing your involvement in sport beyond just playing, so that your vital knowledge already gained isn’t lost to those who follow.
DCAL minister Carál Ní Chuilín supported the event and delivered the closing remarks, she commented: “Women make up half the population yet as indicated in DCAL’s sport strategy there is a 13 per cent gap between the number of men and women taking part in sport in a regular basis.
“DCAL through SportNI has contributed over £800,000 into funding for women’s and girls’ participation and a further half a million into athlete investment for women taking part in sport or coaching sports. Our goal must be to create an ethos and structure within sport which genuinely represents women and reflects the needs of women. We can all have a role in tackling this issue and I welcome this conference as a step towards ensuring that sport in the 21st century is truly inclusive and open to all. ”