HISTORY will be made tomorrow when the Bus Éireann FAI Women’s National League kicks-off.
Never before has a national women’s football league been organised and competed for in Ireland.
However, with financial backing from UEFA through their women’s football development pilot phase in 2010/11, the FAI hatched plans to create a top flight division for the game,
Twenty-six clubs applied for a licence and seven were successful in their quest. However, due to a lack of playing resources Bray Wanderers/St Joseph’s had to withdraw leaving Cork Women’s FC, Peamount United, Shamrock Rovers, Raheny United, Castlebar Celtic FC and Wexford Youths Women’s AFC to compete for the title and the opportunity to represent Ireland in next year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Steffi Jones, UEFA’s Women’s Football Development Programme Ambassador said: “Starting a national league is an essential step for women’s football development. Playing in club competitions is the gateway to A-team football and ensures a stable future for women’s football, as well as an incentive for girls around the country.”
Cork Women’s FC’s playmaker Susan Donovan is relishing the historic day for the game. The Leeside club kick-off their campaign against Peamount United of Dublin at CIT (2pm).
Donovan said: “This is the first year that a national league will be competed between teams from around the country at senior level and that is positive. It’s another shot in the arm to go with the successes of international teams.”
Cork boss Dave Bell has assembled a squad laden with international experience. Bell said: “The squad is extremely strong. Every player is talented and even this close to Sunday you couldn’t name a starting 11 with any conviction. Every player is working really hard in training and it will be difficult to get on the team. For instance, in midfield there is close to 10 players vying for four positions which is a good sign.”
Donovan believes that Cork Women’s FC’s attacking nous will cause problems however their first task will prove to be an enormous challenge to the Leesiders. “I think as an attacking unit we’ll be very strong particularly. We’ve been moving the ball out of deep areas of the field very quickly and effectively. Peamount United will be a massive test for us to start.”
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