Camogie president Hilda Breslin: ‘Funding for sport is heavily skewed against female participation’

Female inter-county players receive less than a quarter of the Government funding pocketed by their mail counterparts
Camogie president Hilda Breslin: ‘Funding for sport is heavily skewed against female participation’

New Camogie Association president Hilda Breslin. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

New Camogie president Hilda Breslin has said the distribution of Government funding to sport is heavily skewed against encouraging female participation.

In her opening address as Camogie Association president at Saturday’s congress, the Kildare native said the distribution of taxpayers money across genders in sport is not fair.

She called on the Government to ensure public funding supports equity of opportunity.

Female inter-county players receive less than a quarter of the Government funding pocketed by their mail counterparts — €700,000 versus €3m. Moreover, the latter figure is a player grant paid directly to male inter-county players, whereas the €700,000 figure is more team focused.

“What would our founders say if we could tell them that today, almost 120 years after the association was formed, we are still actively seeking equity of opportunity for women’s sports? Would they be happy to learn that the distribution of public funding for sport is heavily skewed against the encouragement of female participation? As much as four times to one.

“It is long past time for governments and the sports councils to monitor the gender distribution of public funding between and within sporting organisations and ensure that public funding supports equity of opportunity,” Ms Breslin told the congress.

“I appreciate those in leadership today have inherited the current funding position. But the conventions and funding schemes they have inherited utterly fail the test of equity. We are not engaged in special pleading for an exception to these rules. Regrettably, these rules still echo the outmoded stereotypes that our founders confronted in 1904.

“Instead, we are seeking new rules and funding schemes. We are looking to today’s political leaders and sports administrators to introduce change that embraces how we should think about women’s participation in sport now and into the future.”

Ms Breslin said the media must continue to redress the balance in their coverage of male and female sports, particularly public service broadcasters, which are funded from the public purse.

“If companies want to have credibility with women consumers and to be genuine in their corporate social responsibility, they need to demonstrate how their sports sponsorship promotes equity.

“The gap in male and female sports participation is narrowing, but remains significant. Such participation plays a vital role in promoting individual health and social engagement in our communities.

“As an association, we remain standard bearers. But it is now time for the Government, the media and sponsors to play a fuller part in addressing equity in opportunity for women’s sport.”

The new president revealed her intention to establish a fixtures review committee. It will be invited to provide “strong and perhaps difficult recommendations” that will form a new national competitions structure for 2022 and beyond.

Elsewhere during Saturday’s congress, all experimental playing rules trialled during the 2020 season — including players being allowed to shoulder one another in the tackle and outlawing the handpass goal — were passed.

Over 80% of delegates supported a motion proposing “the association, in partnership with the LGFA, will endeavour to facilitate as far as is practicable the dual player”.

Fixture clashes involving dual players again caused problems during the 2020 season, with Cahir pulling out of the Tipperary junior camogie final last September after their dual cohort were asked to play two county finals in the space of 26 hours.

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