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Dublin: 4°C Wednesday 3 March 2021
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O'Gorman hopes new sponsorship can end 'pay to play' culture in Women's National League

The domestic league is amateur, with many players having to cover some of their own costs to represent their clubs.

File photo of Aine O'Gorman in action for Ireland last year.
File photo of Aine O'Gorman in action for Ireland last year.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE WOMEN’S NATIONAL League came under the same title sponsorship as the men’s national league for the first time today, as the competition has been included in SSE Airtricity’s renewed patronage for the next two years. 

It’s a step forward for the competition, which didn’t have a title sponsor at all last year, and Peamount United captain Aine O’Gorman is hoping it is the first step on the road to semi-professionalism and an end to the culture of players finding themselves out of pocket to represent their clubs. 

“The reality is that at most clubs we do have to pay a fee,” said O’Gorman.

“It’s up to us in a lot of situations to go and get a sponsorship. I’m pretty sure that’s the case right across the board. The clubs do the best they can, they need the money to run the club if they want to get buses to matches, food before training, physios at games as well.

“The backing of SSE Airtricity and hopefully increased prize money means that hopefully there’s a situation where players don’t have to pay any more. We should be striving to get semi-professional. We have to look at getting rid of pay to play first.

“We are all completely amateurs so if we strive for semi-professional status we can have a really good elite environment in this company.” 

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As it stands, the league is set to re-commence in March, and with no regular Covid testing regime yet agreed, O’Gorman said she would like to be tested ahead of the season for “peace of mind.”

Meanwhile, O’Gorman sounded less optimistic on the immediate prospect of the Irish women’s senior international team earning the same pay as their male counterparts. The men’s team are understood to each earn €2,500 per appearance, with the women’s team earning €500. Junior sports minister Jack Chambers said in October he and minister Catherine Martin intended to engage with the FAI on the matter. 

“I don’t know whether that meeting took place, but I think it is something all organisations should be striving to achieve. Right now, my energy and motivation is on creating equal opportunity in the league in Ireland and giving girls that pathway to reach the international set up. Hopefully in a few years that will be the situation. 

“I think that’s something I would like to think will evolve over associations in a few years, but I don’t think there has been any formal conversations around equal pay.”

 

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Gavin Cooney

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