THE inaugural meeting of the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association was held in the Post Office Youth Club, College Square North, Belfast on 26 November 1976.
Mary McVeigh was elected as the first Chair and the meeting discussed the formation of the league, its Constitution and rules as well as the recruitment of new teams, players etc. The Association agreed to play as a summer league under FA Rules with the only exception being that teams played 35 minutes each way instead of 45 minutes. This has since been amended to 45 minutes each way.
The 1977 season kicked off with three Divisions of six teams. However, it was considered more practical to reduce this to two divisions for the 1978 season.
From those early beginnings the NIWFA has now expanded to its present size of 46 teams with approximately 1,200 players (over the age of 14) competing in six divisions during the months of April – September.
The NIWFA committee are keen to develop the women’s game in Northern Ireland and eager to assist clubs to improve their capacity. To this end we have held a number of information days for clubs and hope to organise a number of courses in the future.
The league also currently has a fixtures and referees secretary to ensure the smooth day to day running of league affairs – these posts are both filled on a voluntary basis and the work carried out by the post holders is invaluable to women’s football.
The NIWFA maintains their own dedicated website – www.niwfa.org - committed to providing supporters and clubs with up to date details regarding fixtures, scores and current league tables.
Since 2012 the NIWFA have teamed up with UTV, who subsequently provide a fantastic weekly round-up of all the goals and coverage in the NIWFA Premier Division. The numbers tuning in to view the weekly round-up continue to rise, hitting record viewings during the Sunday evening news slot; seemingly mirroring the rise in public interest in Women’s Football.
The NIWFA is a well-established sports organisation with member clubs from all over Northern Ireland.
The Premiership winners represent Northern Ireland in the UEFA Club Championships each year.
In addition to the various divisional titles there are also divisional cups with the Irish FA also running an Irish Cup competition.