The Irish FA’s Director of Women’s Football has insisted the association is fully invested in improving women’s football across Northern Ireland.
Marking International Women’s Day, Angela Platt said the Irish FA has been giving, and is giving, significant investment and priority to the women’s and girls’ game.
She explained: “This included the funding of the senior women’s team to compete at the Euros last summer, and the full-time training programme that preceded it, as well as staff resource from director level to those working across the country promoting women’s and girls’ football through the Irish FA Foundation.
We are driving good work at the Irish FA and this day provides a moment for us all to pause and take stock of that
“We also have future plans for a girls’ academy as well as work around rebuilding our elite player pathway and the foundations of the women’s game.”
The Director of Women’s Football said International Women’s Day continues to be an important day celebrating the achievements of women, not only in Northern Ireland but around the globe, too.
She added: “More importantly it is an opportunity for us to continue to raise visibility and awareness of developments in girls’ and women’s football and the success that has been achieved so far. We are driving good work at the Irish FA and this day provides a moment for us all to pause and take stock of that.”
Platt revealed there is a focus within the association on supporting partners NIFL and NIWFA to strengthen clubs at all levels in the domestic game, especially as there has been significant growth this year with 17 new teams joining adult leagues.
She also noted that for the first time there is a standalone pillar on women’s and girls’ football in the association’s overall corporate strategy, A Roadmap for Football.
The Director of Women’s Football stressed: “This demonstrates more than ever just how seriously we are taking the development of this important area of our work. It is a statement of real intent and something we are proud of.
“The strategy is so important because it will capacity build not just for more female players but coaches, officials and volunteers, too.”
She pointed out that by simply participating at the Euros last summer the Northern Ireland senior women’s team had created memories that will last forever for the players and in the minds of fans.
And she added: “We are building on this by engaging more girls and women to play football. We want to continue to raise the profile of the women’s game, helping clubs and schools to promote opportunities to play football.
“We are supporting club volunteers with CPD (continuing personal development) and coach education opportunities to grow and develop the volunteer base in our clubs and communities. We are also undertaking work to highlight role models within the women’s game.”
She insisted the success of the senior women’s team has made everyone in Northern Ireland more interested in the women’s game generally, adding: “We are seeing more women getting involved across every facet of the game, in administrative positions, for example. This tells me that we are continuing to create an environment that is welcoming for women to make contributions across the game.”
When it comes to developing players, Platt said the association’s role is to nurture players right across the pathway, from grassroots through to the senior women’s team.
The Director of Women’s Football added: “My role at the association is to bring cohesion to the different structures and build capacity and support where necessary. We have a strong pathway of young talent coming through right across Northern Ireland and a host of commercial partners committed to strengthening the women’s game.
“At the grassroots level Electric Ireland are helping to raise participation levels through their support for the Shooting Stars programme, while further up the pathway our new lead partners, EE, are funding bursaries for aspiring female coaches.
“Shooting Stars has been successfully introducing girls aged four to 11 to football. There’s also the UEFA Disney Playmakers programme, which uses storytelling to attract young girls to the sport.”