Goalposts move as girls score major league
IF you fund it, they will come. That's the line Minister of State Michael Ring was pushing yesterday, as he launched Ireland's first women's national football league.
For many of these girls, it really has been a field of dreams: they have long been the insignificant sibling to a male-dominated sport. But the goalposts are moving.
"Women are great motivators and if you get women involved in sport, no matter what it is, children will follow," Mr Ring said at the unveiling of the Bus Eireann Women's National League at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
Consisting initially of six teams, the league is among the first steps in a European-wide effort to develop the female game and UEFA has sunk millions into its four-year program. The squads are Peamount United, Castlebar Celtic FC, Cork Women's FC, Raheny United, Shamrock Rovers and Wexford Youths Women's AFC.
Many of the players, like centre-half Louise Quinn (21) from Peamount United, represent their country, too.
"This is one of the biggest steps but you can never stop improving," she said.
UEFA will invest €22m across its 53 member associations over four years, averaging at about €104,000 per annum to run its leagues.
Ireland was one of just four countries to successfully apply for pilot development funding during 2010/2011.