Thursday 23 May 2019

WATCH: Dublin footballer Noelle Healy calls for greater education for sportswomen managing menstruation

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Dublin footballer Noelle Healy says women in sport need more education on how to manage their period, after research revealed that one-in-two women had stopped playing sport at some point due to their menstrual cycle.

Three-quarters of 16-24 year-olds claimed their menstrual cycle forced them to give up playing sport at some stage, according to a study by Irish sports performance company Orreco.

Speaking at the launch of the 'FitrWomen' app in Croke Park, St. Brigids' and Dublin footballer Healy said dealing with the menstrual cycle is a major issue for sportswomen, and one that is often overlooked.

"It does affect people," she said.

"I remember the Foxrock girls used to wear white shorts and they put in the big thing to be able to get navy shorts and a lot of other clubs have done it since.

"It can be something as small as that, but younger girls don't want to be wearing white shorts and it's something that small that people are getting hung up about.

"I know girls who, coming into an All-Ireland quarter final, their period has come and they’ve got horrendous cramps or they just don’t feel well, they feel run down. It’s good to get education out there so they know they’ve pain killers with them or they’ve eaten the right food so they know they're not going to feel run down.

"I remember countless number of times we have a big training session coming up and somebody being like ‘aw I have my period, I’m not going to be able to give enough’ and they're not comfortable enough to say.”

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The two-time All-Star praised the 'FitrWomen' app, which helps female athletes monitor their period and prepare accordingly.

Healy recognised that women in sport will never be the same as men due to their anatomical makeup, and suggested that their training should also be different.

"We base so much of our training on the male model and we’re not men," she said.

"Anatomically and physiologically we’re different and we need to be able to have a source of information there to eat around it and train around it (menstrual cycle)."

The corner forward also said that ladies’ Gaelic football is in a "good place" but said that it if the standard of play is not equal to that of the males, they can’t expect to draw the same crowds.

"Nearly every county has a chance to have their games on television and to have that platform themselves so that brilliant," she said.

"You've had bigger sponsors coming in and then counties' own individual sponsors seem to be doing a really good job in promoting it, so I think people are aware of ladies’ sport more and more. I think they're giving it the respect it deserves.

"As players though, we have a responsibility to make sure the game that we are showcasing is a good enough standard. I've always said that you can't expect people to come in and give you their attention or give you plaudits just because you're playing sport. You have to make sure that it's worth watching and worth the platform that it’s given."

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