Wednesday 18 July 2018

Women In Sport conference hoping to change the game heading into the future

Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Madrid Office Visit, Liberty Seguros Paseo de la Doce Estrellas, Madrid. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Liberty Insurance Camogie All-Stars Madrid Office Visit, Liberty Seguros Paseo de la Doce Estrellas, Madrid. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Jack O'Toole

The third annual Sport for Business Game Changer Conference on Women in Sport was held in the Fitzgerald Chamber at UCD on Thursday as speakers from all over the UK and Ireland gathered to discuss how to improve the women's sporting landscape.

The half-day conference included speakers from media, sponsorship, athletic and analytical backgrounds, with a video of the inaugural Liberty Insurance Camogie All Stars tour also shown.

"We had about 100 people in the theater yesterday, which was about as many as it could take," said Rob Hartnett, founder and CEO of Sport for Business.

"Ladies Gaelic Football Chief Executive Helen O'Rourke spoke about how ladies football got to their 46,000 figure for this year's All-Ireland final and how that's impacted the rest of the sport.

"Lynsey Douglas came over from Nielsen Sports and she gave an overview of the real growth of women's sport in terms of attendance, viewership and interest in women's sport on a global basis.

"We killed the idea that people weren't really interested in women's sport and there was a lot of positive stuff there."

Deirdre Ashe, Director of Personal Lines for Liberty Insurance, also spoke of the importance of the creation of female role models from within teams and individual sports right through to the administrative corridors of power.

Ashe was apart of the inaugural Liberty Insurance Camogie All Stars tour that visited Madrid this week to play the first ever Camogie All Stars match in Hortaleza, and as part of that tour, she added that it was important to underline the leadership potential that exists in women's sport.

"This is not about women’s sport, it is about the influence that women are wielding across all sport," said Ashe.

"We will identify leaders on and off the field of play.  They will include those who are role models in terms of their abilities on and off the field of play. 

"They will come from teams and individual sports, from sponsorship partners, from the media, from the administrative corridors of power and from places where influence may be subtle but no less powerful."

The 2017 conference also highlighted a particular concern with female retention rates in sport and the education that surrounds women's sport.

Hartnett said that clubs, schools, the media and administrators had a responsibility to cultivate an atmosphere where women not only wanted to play sport, but to stay in sport as well.

"We wanted to look at what we can do better and what we can do to actually change things," said Hartnett.

"Lidl's research this year showed that half of the girls that were playing sport had given up by the age of 13.

"We looked at that age range and looked into secondary schools, clubs, the system of education, all of these factors, and asked 'who is not doing things well here?'

"That's really the area where if progress is going to be made in the next 12 months, those are the areas that are going to have to be improved."

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