A year on since members of the Irish Women’s National Team went up against the FAI over grievances regarding remuneration for players on international duty, improper kit, gym membership as well as other matters, Irish women’s soccer is in a contrastingly different place.
After reaching an agreement with the FAI over these issues raised in April last year, the Women’s National Team are moving closer to qualifying for a major women’s tournament for the first time in the country’s history.
The national team’s success both on and off the pitch represents a major uplift in Irish women’s soccer. Despite going down to a 2-0 defeat to The Netherlands, who are the current European champions, qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France is still a realistic possibility for Ireland as they sit second in Group 3. Both qualifiers which took place in Tallaght Stadium last month against Slovakia and the Netherlands respectively broke the record attendance for a competitive women’s international in this country. A total crowd of 4,047 were present at Tallaght Stadium to watch Ireland host The Netherlands in their 2019 World Cup Qualifier.
This recent success signifies the significant steps forward which women’s soccer is taking in this country. The goal of boosting participation numbers in women’s soccer through numerous programmes are proving to be successful and this will only be enhanced by the success of the current members of the Irish Women’s National Soccer Team. The recent unveiling of Aviva Insurance extending their deal as the official partner of the Republic of Ireland’s National Soccer team will undoubtedly enhance the growth of the game. This can be seen through the Aviva Soccer Sister’s grassroots programme which has overseen the participation of over 25,000. The Girls Centre of Excellence is another set up by the FAI which is providing a clear pathway for Ireland’s stars of the future to hone their skills and represent Ireland at youth level.
There is undoubted talent in this country, with the likes of Niamh Fahey amongst some of the most decorated players in the game. There is also still room for optimism as the production line doesn’t seem to be stalling any time soon with the likes of U19 Women’s International Player of the Year, Lucy McCartan, and U17 Women’s International of the Year, Tiegan Ruddy, earning rave reviews for both club and country.
The next World Cup Qualifier takes place on Friday, 8th of June in Tallaght Stadium, against Norway. This represents a huge clash for Ireland as a win will put breathing space between the two sides. Ireland will be hoping for another record breaking crowd which will undoubtedly give them the edge in this vital clash. Get down and support the team if you can – it’s sure to be an exciting game!