Grants saga takes new twist as ladies closely monitor events

THERE has been a new twist in the ongoing GPA grants saga for inter-county players after the Ladies Football Association said that any funding exclusively for male GAA players would be discrimination against women.

Speaking at the Ladies Football All-Stars tour in Singapore yesterday, Ladies Football President Geraldine Giles said she believed that both men and women would have to be treated equally on the grants issue.

The subject of equality between the two genders throws yet another question into the debate over grants for footballers and hurlers. The GPA have called an Emergency General Meeting for April 1, where they will vote on what their next step will be. They have not ruled out the possibility of going on strike in their search for government and Irish Sports Council grants for GAA players.

The Ladies Football Association have no official links with the GPA at the moment, and it’s not something which looks on the cards either.

However, the Ladies Football Association are closely monitoring developments on the GPA’s search for government and Irish Sports Council-backed grants for GAA players.

Geraldine Giles believes that, should the grants initiative ever get the go ahead, it would need to have ladies footballers, camogie players and other female amateur sports athletes incorporated because if not then it would be discrimination.

The GPA’s Donal O’Neill said yesterday that the GPA had communicated their intentions on the grant issue to the Ladies Football Association, but that the players’ body could only push the initiative through on behalf of its own members.

“The ladies are operating under a different association effectively, so what we were doing was catering for our own members or anyone who falls beneath the GAA banner.

“In our discussions with the government, one of the issues that was brought up was how do you effectively go about setting up a scheme like this. There are groups out there who I am sure would feel entitled to grants in specific areas, and it really is a matter for each group to present their own case.”

Geraldine Giles added yesterday that the most immediate concern for the Ladies Football Association is the implementation of their coaching and strategic plans.

“We are more interested in our development work at the moment, which is placing a big emphasis on newly appointed tutors promoting the game to juveniles.”

The All-Stars visited yet more schools in Singapore yesterday where they coached local children in the skills of Gaelic Football.

For his part, Mr O’Neill said that it was too early to speculate on the outcome of the GPA’s EGM in Portlaoise at the start of April.

“Everyone can see the benefit of this scheme for players and it will be interesting to see the view of the players on the night itself.

“It is impossible to define exactly what the outcome will be, but there is an awareness that once the championships come around players’ minds will be elsewhere.”

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