Jason King, Chairperson of Ballyduff AFC and Get Ireland Walking National Co-Ordinator met Community Sports Development Officer, Sinéad Brannigan to chat about the successful development of girl’s soccer in the club.
Currently, the club have approximately 40% female membership; over 250 girls play soccer with the club from academy level right up to adult level. Jason credited the great effort made by the coaches, volunteers and committee members for increasing female participation in the club. It is his opinion that the reason for the growth in girls playing soccer in the club is due to their strong connection with the local school. He also mentions that the soccer club is a good feasible option for parents in the area looking for an organised and structured activity for their daughters.
Jason explained that when a girl joins the club they’re mixed with the boys at academy level and then once they reach the under 10 age group the girls then form their own teams. Girls have always been supported and encouraged to play soccer in Ballyduff AFC. In the past they would’ve played on the boys teams right up to the under 16 age group. The reason for this was to give girls the opportunity to play soccer and be part of a team even when there weren’t enough girls to form their own teams.
The clubs focus is on addressing the need for all children to be physically active in Ballyduff and the surrounding areas. Jason believes that girls should be told about the physical, mental, and social health benefits of playing sports. He commented that ‘clubs are where friendships are made’.
Jason mentioned that Ballyduff AFC, Bohemians FC and Park Rangers AFC have started to work together and they’re in the early stages of forming a girl’s soccer network to address concerns that have been identified by clubs like scheduling and pitch availability for girl’s teams, amongst other things. The networks aim is to be action and solution based and it will be supported by Sports Development Officers from Waterford Sports Partnership and the FAI. The well known Peamount United located in Dublin have shared their journey with Jason and he hopes that he can apply their learning’s to support the network to create a strong sustainable plan for girls soccer in Waterford for many years to come.
Ballyduff AFC made the decision to sign up to the 20×20 Club Charter so that they can play their role to promote girls in sport, to increase participation in girl’s sports, and to actively welcome the creation of support networks for girl’s sports. The club have designated a 20×20 Club Champion. Her name is Laura Fletcher. Laura is a club coach and she will be part of the new support network along with another longstanding club member. Identifying and preparing girls to undertake volunteer roles within the club is important to Ballyduff AFC. At the moment, the club has a number of girls that give their time to coach the younger age groups. The club would like to encourage more girls to come back during their teenage years and develop their coaching skills with the club in the future.
The facilities in Ballyduff AFC would be the envy of many soccer clubs across the county and country. The club has playing pitches, astro turf pitches, and a walking track. The walking track is a safe place and is well lit, and in his role as National Co-Ordinator for Get Ireland Walking he knows that walking is a favourable activity for women wanting to be more physically active across the country. He has witnessed the benefit of the club having a walking track to increase physical activity levels for everyone that visits the club, especially Mums that drop their children off for training sessions.
Article Modified: November 06, 2020 8:47 am