DCU pledges it’s support for women in sport

Beth Molloy

Last week saw Dublin City University pledged its commitment to the 20×20 campaign. DCU is one of 24 third level institutions that have signed the 20×20 charter to support the growth and visibility of women in sport.

In partnership with the 20×20 campaign, Student Sport Ireland  announced the first ever national women in sport initiative for third level colleges and universities on the 1st of October.

The initiative calls on all students and members of staff to promote the visibility of women in sport, aiming to boost attendance and grow the numbers of those participating in sports on campus by 20% by the end of 2020.

Launched last October by the Federation of Irish Sport in partnership with the creative agency Along Came a Spider, the objective of the 20×20 campaign is to get the Irish public actively involved in the promotion of female sport. The end goal is to increase media coverage, boost attendances and grow female participation in sports by 20% by 2020.

Speaking after the launch of the initiative in DCU Yvonne McGowan, DCU Senior Sports Development Officer and 20×20 Staff Champion said that “Irish Sports Monitor Research shows that the sharpest decrease in female’s sports participation occurs the transition from late adolescence to early adulthood.” For this reason it is paramount that third level institutions participate in this initiative to keep females actively engaged in sport.

McGowan continued:  “Women are also less likely to volunteer, attend sporting events and be a member of a sports club. 20×20 represents an opportunity for Dublin City University to work collaboratively with Student Sport Ireland, 20×20, and the Colleges and Universities sector to tackle this issue, and to make a positive impact on female physical activity and overall health during third level education and beyond.”

DCU has a history of producing successful sports teams in an expansive and diverse range of codes. The university has seen the likes of Dublin footballer and AFL player Niamh McEvoy, Irish rugby international Lindsay Peat and Olympic sailor Ciara Peelo pass through its doors. The university is home to a range of fantastic sports clubs that give women looking for a platform to engage in sport a place to do so. Whether that is competing at the highest level possible or just taking part to keep fit.

The ladies soccer team in DCU are a thriving team that includes both provincial and international representatives. The side participates in the WSCAI League and Intervarsity competition. The team’s biggest success to date was winning the 2009 Challenge Cup.

DCU are the biggest GAA club in 3rd level competition and have won both the O’Connor Championship and Division 1 trophies in 2017/2018.

Elisa Corcoran, a bronze medallist at the Irish Intervarsity Golf championships last year and a student of DCU said that she thinks that “it’s great that DCU are pledging their support for the 20×20 campaign” and that “DCU are trying to make a difference, they’re trying to change the perception of women playing sport in Ireland.”

This change in perception that the 20×20 campaign is striving to achieve is already evident when considering the record breaking attendances in recorded at female sporting occasions in the country.

After a joint promotion by the FAI and the 20×20 campaign a record 8,000 tickets for the Irish Women’s EURO 2021 Qualifier against Ukraine on October 8th were sold or claimed by season ticket holders. Tallaght Stadium witnessed history as it welcomed a record breaking amount of fans to cheer on the girls in green.

This comes a month after the Ladies Gaelic football finals broke their record attendance for yet another year. The lashings of rain did nothing to deter the 56,114 supporters who came to show their support. This is a huge increase on the 27,374 that attended the 2014 final.  As the numbers of those attending these sporting occasions rise off the back of increased media coverage and promotions, it is paramount that the levels of females engaging in sports is maintained and increased.

In September of this year Sport Ireland announced details of a multi-year investment of over €3 million in national governing bodies of sport through the re-launched Women in Sport Programme. They have pledged the investment of €3,277,000 for the years 2019 and 2020.

The money has been allocated to a range of sporting governing bodies, including Irish Rugby and the Confederation of Irish Golf who secured the highest level of funding receiving €100,000 each. Ladies Gaelic Football received €40,000 while Camogie and the Olympic Federation were given €20,000.

No funding was allocated however for the FAI whose funding is currently being suspended pending investigations into the sporting body.

According to the most recent Irish Sports Monitor in 2017 the national gender gradient in sports participation has decreased significantly from 15.7% in 2007 to 4.5% in 2017.

While speaking about what can been done to further the involvement in female sports from a young age, Elisa Corcoran referenced working at a family fun day in Abbotstown last week on behalf of the Confederation of Golfers in Ireland. “We were there to help and promote golf and to get the young girls to pick up a golf club and get them hitting a few balls.”

Corcoran continued “I think we need a few more days like that that need to be organised, you know once off was great it was fun but you kind of need to do a repetition of those types of days you know maybe once or twice a month even to hold conventions where they focus on like one sport at each time so maybe rugby then soccer and then golf and just keep promoting the games.”

DCUSU President Christine Farrell signed the 20×20 charter to acknowledge the Student Union’s support of the campaign however she was not available to comment on the news.

Beth Molloy

Image Credit: DCU