‘I think some women find it a bit intimidating having to go on a course full of men’ (Ireland)
THERE HAS BEEN plenty of optimism surrounding the women’s game in Ireland of late.
The WNT’s recent crucial World Cup qualifiers, against Slovakia and the Netherlands, both drew record attendances for a women’s match at Tallaght Stadium.
Colin Bell’s side’s performances have also been a source of encouragement, with the team unbeaten in competitive matches under the English-born manager before suffering a 2-0 loss to European champions the Netherlands last April. And despite that setback, qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France remains a realistic prospect with Ireland currently second in their group, three points adrift of the Dutch.
That said, a little more than a year has passed since the women’s national team famously protested at the conditions they had been expected to work under.
Although there have been significant improvements since then, it would be disingenuous to suggest all the problems with women’s football in Ireland have suddenly disappeared.
One issue currently being addressed is the lack of female coaches in the game and the perceived limited opportunities for them to succeed at the highest level.
Of course, it is not solely an Irish problem. The FA’s recent decision to appoint Phil Neville — someone with no previous experience in women’s football — as manager of the England team was not exactly a ringing endorsement of the standard of coaching that exists in the women’s game.
Yet the FAI, to their credit, have opted to address the issue. An online survey to engage with coaches all around the country was recently issued by the association.
“Increasing the number of female coaches working in football is a key pillar of the FAI Women’s Strategic Plan,” says Sue Ronan, the former national team boss and current FAI Head of Women’s Football.
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