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'The problem is, we do not yet bring in money' - Vera Pauw on Irish footballers' equal pay fight
The Ireland boss also spoke of plans to introduce ‘mixed-gender’ training.

IRELAND BOSS VERA Pauw has revealed she had two preconditions before committing to a new contract, which was confirmed earlier today.

One was that she retained all her coaching staff from the previous campaign and another was the introduction of mixed-gender training, and she believes the latter is key in the fight for the Irish women’s team receiving equal pay to the men’s sides, which has been an ongoing issue for months now.

Asked about the last the campaign, the Dutch coach cited an inability to swiftly implement mixed-gender training as problematic. 

While the likes of Arsenal star Katie McCabe compete to a professional level, the domestic-based players in the squad invariably train with their clubs 2-3 times a week.

Pauw consequently wants all players in the squad to train at an “elite” level, which she regards as “5-6 times a week”.

The coach does not want to pressure Irish players into joining top English or foreign clubs, and so believes facilillitating a situation whereby domestic players train with men’s clubs is a viable alternative.

Speaking about the last campaign in which the Irish team fell short of qualification for the Euros, she explained: “If you really look back, the key thing was an own goal from 40 metres and a penalty kick not being scored, let alone all the chances that we missed in that one game.

“If one of them did not happen, we would have qualified now. And we would have been in a situation where we said: ‘Wow, we even gave Germany a game and we were 2-1 down, and we went with four attackers and one-v-one at the back to try to make sure we get the second goal, but then there is a chance you’ll concede a third goal. Then it would be a complete change of atmosphere to now, where we think: ‘Where did we do something wrong?’ I don’t think we can blame anyone for the scenario we are in and we’ve taken the best out of it.

“Of course, we could have scored more, but that is part of a process. You cannot blame anyone for that.

“The only thing that I regret is the players should have been able to play with mixed-gender earlier and that was not possible because of insurance getting cleared.

“It shows, in a moment like that, that players do what they’re used to doing. They never feel that pressure of the game, and if only in one moment, they feel that, then you get mistakes like we have made.

“Keeping my staff was one condition and the other was [getting] mixed-gender training arranged. Otherwise, in the next qualifying campaign, we will get exactly the same moment. So that is a lesson that we really learned — it re-emphasised [the importance of] training with the pressure you meet internationally.”

And does she have any particular men’s teams in mind for the plan?

“It depends on the individual. We’ll look for a team they can train with that meets their standard, where they need to be on their tiptoes but still can play.

“So defenders will be a little bit older boys than attackers, because attackers need to create and they need to be able to do something to get around players if they’re at their best. And defenders need to stop players from scoring if they’re at their best.

“In practical terms, it means defenders are training with boys one year older than the attackers are midfielders.”

On the equal pay issue, Pauw added: “The problem is, we do not yet bring in money. Equal pay comes when there is a possibility for equal pay. It is a starting point that you really want to achieve as quickly as possible. What we need is equal approach of opportunity. That’s different to being equal.

“The clubs train only two times a week. There are players who need to find their own training environment.

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“There are other issues that are not equal with the men. So let’s focus first on getting equal opportunities for training, for development, because that is something that’s achievable and that is not expensive. That is something of will and enthusiasm, and it’s my task to make clear what would be the best steps to achieve that very quickly, and it is achievable very quickly.

“If that is the case and everybody is training at elite level — that means 5-6 sessions plus a game a week, then automatically sponsors will step in and there will be money. That is my experience in other countries. You first need to create equal opportunity and perform to equal standards, then the money will come in. It happened in the Netherlands, it happened in South Africa, everywhere I’ve worked, even now in Scotland.

“So yes, we want it as quickly as possible, but we need to take responsibility for getting equal opportunity, and the players need to meet those standards also, and they will. They’re really eager and they want to make that step.”

Pauw also hailed the recent news that for the first time ever, Airtricity will sponsor both the men’s and women’s domestic leagues.

“That’s truly a remarkable step that nobody really expected. It came like a blue sky. It shows especially, the positive vibe around our game. Everybody feels that something special is about to happen. That is what makes me [want to] give myself to the game with full heart, full intention and full energy.

“It’s proof that the game is developing fast.” 

Pauw also explained that she is set to have a full squad available for the forthcoming World Cup campaign, which begins in September, with no retirements imminent.

“Of course, I’ve had a few discussions with the more experienced players, but all say the same as me in their own words: ‘We are not finished.’

“They understand that young players will [eventually] take over, but they feel part of it now.”


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