International Women’s Day 2020 – Meet inspiring Irish sports stars at the top of their game

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Let’s make some noise for women in sport.

The Irish Sun celebrates International Women’s Day by calling on sports fans across the country to show off their stripes.

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Nadia Power is just one of our female athletes to watchCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription

We support the 20×20 campaign which aims to change current perceptions of women’s sport by achieving a 20% increase in media coverage, women’s participation in sport and participation in women’s games and events.

It’s a work in progress, with encouraging figures showing that the gap between male and female sport participation has narrowed from 15.7 percent to 4.5 percent.

And you don’t have to look far to find top women’s sports, with Irish women leading the way in a range of disciplines.

Here we meet some of the most inspiring sports stars at the top of their game and find out their hopes for the generation of young girls following in their footsteps.

TARA MCNEILL – “When I am on this ground, I am so free, there is nothing else”

TARA is the only Irish grandmother to win an Irish cap, after competing in the Homeless World Cup in Oslo in 2017.

“Even though it’s been three years later, I still can’t believe I was selected for Ireland, sometimes I dismiss it, but it’s a really big deal.

    Tara McNeill says football was a big part of her recovery

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Tara McNeill says football was a big part of her recoveryCredit: Lorraine O’Sullivan – The Sun Dublin

“What it is for me, coming from where I come from, I never thought I would go this far playing football and have this opportunity. There are people who have played their best. life and who wouldn’t have the chance to play for Ireland and have a cap.

“From a young age I started playing, but I gave up. I quit for 25 years before going back to it.

“I have never seen myself without drink or drugs. I have never done. I couldn’t have imagined it.

“Football has been a big part of my recovery.

“When I’m on this pitch, I’m so free. It doesn’t matter what is going on in my life. It’s freedom and no matter how long you play, there is nothing else.

“From Norway I went to Brazil, play football and Copenhagen, so where would you get it? In the space of a few years, to be able to play football all over the world.

“And I want other girls and women to have this chance. For girls you have to keep pushing and pushing and pushing it’s not as easy as for men.

“Due to my age, there were more obstacles for me than there are today for women, although it is still not up to the standards of men today.”

CARLA ROWE – “It’s not just about success, sport has shaped who I am”

WITH three All Ireland titles and one All-Star under her belt, Dublin Ladies GAA footballer Carla Rowe wants to see more young girls in the sport.

“I am delighted to be working with the 20×20 campaign, which aims to increase the visibility of women in sport.

    Dublin player Carla Rowe

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Dublin player Carla RoweCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription

“I’m working with Lidl on their Serious Support program. I’m an athlete mentor, which is a new program with six or seven athletes who go to schools in Ireland and we try to keep the girls in sport.

“We tell them how sport has changed our lives and how it has affected us.

Reports show that only one in three girls continue to exercise after entering high school, so there is a huge drop.

“It’s really positive to see girls come together and talk to them about the impact my involvement in GAA has had on my life.

“It’s not just about being successful in sport, it has given me opportunities and shaped who I am.

“It gave me more confidence and made me more outgoing. Before I started football I was not shy but I was calm.

“Sport also gave me life lessons before it happened in life.

“Sport has taught me that you have good days and bad and you don’t win all the time. It teaches you resilience and how to bounce back from bad situations.

“The highlights for me would be the three All Irelands that the Dublin Ladies have recently. I have individual accolades and recently got an All-Star, but individual achievements are not worth it if you don’t succeed in team.”

NADIA POWER – “I love running after this post-race feeling, it keeps me resilient”

The European under-23 medalist in the 800m, 22, from Templeogue is aiming for the Olympics in four years.

“I started athletics at the age of eight after winning my class race on sports day. I loved the feeling of being ecstatic after a good race.

    Nadia Power of Dublin City Harriers AC

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Nadia Power of Dublin City Harriers ACCredit: Sportsfile – Subscription

“It’s a great relief when all the nerves are gone and you can look back and be proud of what you’ve accomplished and know it was worth the training and the hard racing effort.

“I always like chasing after that post-race feeling. It’s what helps me stay resilient through a series of bad races. I still think the next race could be the one where everything. works perfectly.

“To be honest, in track and field I’ve always felt supported as a woman and that’s one of my favorite things about the sport.

“I think that for the most part men and women are treated as fairly as possible in athletics and that their accomplishments receive the same respect.

“However, I took part in a competition last year where a bonus of € 250 was offered for the men’s race if they ran under a certain time while no equivalent was offered for the women’s race.

“The organizers apologized to me afterwards and said it would be offered to both next year, so I guess they recognized how unfair it was!

“Participating in 20X20 is so important to me that I have witnessed the significant decline in women’s participation in sports throughout my teenage years.

“By giving more coverage to high performance female athletes, we are showing young girls that it is worth staying in sport and giving them hope that if they are successful they will be recognized as good at sport and not just good in sport “for a girl”. “

ROBYN BYRNE – “I like playing in the men’s league, it raises my standards”

ROBYN Byrne, 22, former Masters U-18 World Darts Champion.

“I’ve played in the men’s leagues for the last six years and find that I probably try harder to beat men than I would try to beat a woman.

    Robyn Byrne tells young players to be confident

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Robyn Byrne tells young players to be confident

“And men definitely try not to be beaten by a woman! They don’t like the idea of ​​being beaten by a girl.

“Some of the new players will say things like ‘oh you lost to a girl’ but any of the established players who know me and are used to competing with me will say ‘I didn’t lose to a girl , I lost to Robyn.

“I like playing in the men’s leagues because I think it elevates my level, and I think it’s great to see men and women compete against each other.

“But I think it’s important to develop competitions for girls only.

“It only really started in the last few years because the girls weren’t competing. They lost confidence playing against the men and gave up.

“If you get beaten all the time you won’t keep playing, so if women can gain more playing experience in women-only competitions, they will improve and be more inclined to play against men.

“We need separate competitions at the moment, but I think the main tour should be mixed because if you’re good enough you’re good enough regardless of your age or gender.

“Since Fallon Sherrock won the World Championships in December, I have noticed that more men are interested in women’s football.

“Before that, they would have just ignored him.

“I always say to young players, be confident and don’t think that just because you’re a girl you can’t compete with the boys.”

SARAH ROWE – ‘I don’t think the players get the same respect as the men, but I think things have improved a lot ‘

SARAH Rowe, 24, is an AFL player with Collingwood and a Mayo GAA star.

Playing two codes in two different countries, the Mayo woman is part of the first wave of GAA women to begin playing professionally in the AFL.

    Sarah Rowe, AFL and Mayo player

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Sarah Rowe, AFL and Mayo player

“I wanted to come to Australia and live the life of a professional athlete.

“You meet so many like-minded people and everyone strives to be the best version of themselves. You push yourself to the absolute limit. You do the same in Mayo but there is not as many resources to help you.

“We would have between 10,000 and 20,000 spectators in a game on the weekend, and if it is a big game or an opening game, it could go up to 25,000 or 30,000.

“The big difference between here and at home is that the AFL covers men and women, it’s not like the GAA and the LFGA. We’re all on the same page.

“Ladies AFL is still in its infancy compared to men’s football, but the standards have risen a lot and there is a steady progression.

“Back home, Lidl has done a great job promoting the game and things have really started to change since they arrived, but we need more of a boost.

“It’s our job to train hard and bring the level to a place where people want to come and watch the game, but we need as much media coverage as possible.

“I don’t think the players get the same respect as the men, but I think things have improved a lot.

“When I was younger I never thought I would have the chance to come to Australia and play professionally and I’m so grateful to have this chance.

“I learned so much and can’t wait to bring this back to Mayo.

“When it comes to getting young girls involved in sport, I think it’s good that they realize that if you want to be successful, it takes work.”


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