History in the making this weekend

History will be made in Galway this Saturday when the first ever senior Galway United football team will play in the Women’s National League. The development brings to an end the uncertainty that beset the women’s game in Galway last Autumn when it was announced that Galway WFC would not be applying to play in this year’s league.

If that had come to pass, then the pathways that had been formed for women and girls into senior soccer based here in the west would have been severely dented. Thankfully, Galway United rose to the challenge and added the women’s senior teams and its academy side to its brand.

The three sides under the United umbrella will be managed by people who know Galway women’s football inside out - Phil Trill with the seniors; Ann Carr with the U19s and Gary Fitzgerald with the U17s — all capably navigating a pathway for local club players to get an opportunity to play football at the highest level in this country.

On page 87 of this week’s Galway Advertiser, we feature a team group of the players who will represent Galway United in the league this season. I would hope that every parent and football fan will cut this out and paste it up in their child’s bedroom so that they can see the evolution of local heroes. Get them to know the United players — they all have unique capabilities and personalities, let them develop favourites, celebrate them because in those role models, they can see themselves in a few year’s time.

At the moment, women’s sport in Ireland has never been stronger...and the best thing is, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The massive potential that exists for female athletes and sportspersons has been hampered for years by the lack of facilities, the inequitable arrangements of hawking teams around trying to find pitches to train and play on; the unfair reality of being made to play second fiddle.

Massive advances have been made in the appreciation and unique challenges of female sport, from the suitability of comfortable and flexible sports wear, to an understanding of the menstrual cycle on performance and confidence; to the education of coaches and the application of international best practice by the FAI. Thankfully, we have made enormous strides, but there is much more to do — and we all have a role to play in that.

This generation is the last of Irish female sports people which will have to beg and borrow for the right to have access to equitable facilities and sports education — The key role we all play in this is achieved through celebrating our female sports teams in their own right. Galway United is conscious of this massive potential and the dichotomy that has existed and the club has taken unique steps to ensure that all its teams will want for nothing in terms of preparation and coaching. Indeed, news on the provision of new superb facilities for all its teams is imminent.

Sport has to be inclusive, to allow for all levels of capability, and in this regard, it has to engage with the local communities that feed it.

By Galway United bringing our local WNL team and its academy sides under its umbrella, it ensures that one season ticket covers all games, that all of its teams will have equal currency in the club’s plans. Like the GPO in 1916, more people claim to have been at the first Galway Rovers game in the seventies than the ground could hold, but you all have an opportunity to see history in the making at Eamonn Deacy Park this Saturday when they play Wexford.

Remember too that Galway United’s womens team play in the top tier of Irish football, which means that at every game this season, you could possibly see players who will be representing Ireland at this year’s World Cup Finals in New Zealand and Australia. On top of all that, Galway’s kits are among the most stylish in the country, and are fashion statements in their own right.

This weekend, the match will be marked with drum-led parades of young players in their own club colours from around the city and county. Get along in numbers and get behind your side. Game kicks off at 2pm Saturday.


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