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Northern Ireland women set to train full-time ahead of Euro 2022

Kenny Shiels’ side made history earlier this year by qualifying for a first-ever major tournament.

Northern Ireland celebrate qualifying for the Euros.
Northern Ireland celebrate qualifying for the Euros.
Image: Presseye/Philip Magowan/INPHO

NORTHERN IRELAND’S women’s football team is set to go full-time ahead of Euro 2022.

Plans for Kenny Shiels’ side to train full-time in preparation for their first-ever major tournament were presented at Stormont yesterday.

MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] and Ministers were among representatives from across the political spectrum who met members of the squad and pledged their support for this historic move at a reception entitled, “A New Dream”.

The majority of Shiels’ squad play domestically in the Women’s Premiership and combine their football with work or studies.

“I was delighted to see so many political parties represented,” Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson told irishfa.com

“It shows just how much support there is for these plans and we will talk to Ministers and MLAs in more detail in the coming weeks.”

Irish FA president Conrad Kirkwood added: “The remarkable story of our senior women’s international team has been well documented: part-time footballers who defied all the odds to achieve what many people simply didn’t think was possible – a spot at the Uefa Women’s Euros next year.

“The football community in Northern Ireland is excited about women’s football and we at the Irish FA are really excited, too.”

kenny-shields Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels. Source: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan said it was “very special” to get the support of so many at Stormont, while defender Julie Nelson – record caps holder in the team – noted in a speech:

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“We are on the cusp of something really exciting. Qualifying for the Euros really is a new dream. We know that football can inspire people of all ages and this Northern Ireland team has the potential to inspire a new generation of fans and players. Many of the people in the room can help us realise that potential.”

Northern Ireland made history by qualifying for England 2022 in April, beating Ukraine 4-1 on aggregate in the play-offs.

Ukraine were in the Republic of Ireland’s qualifying group, where Vera Pauw’s side – who are yet to reach a major tournament – finished third.

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