All-Ireland winning Cork camogie captain Ashling Thompson believes women’s sport can benefit from innovative marketing strategies like those employed by Ladies Football.
Thompson has been hugely impressed by Lidl’s promotion of the Ladies NFL and would love if camogie could ink a similar deal.
However Thompson admitted that the Ladyball campaign (an ad which generated huge reaction and criticism before the Lidl deal was announced) caught her unawares.
“I was speaking at a huge convention for “Cycle against Suicide” in the RDS and I saw it at breakfast in the hotel that morning.
“I couldn’t get over it, it totally caught me off guard and of course, I nearly hit the roof” recalls Thompson.
“I just thought God this is ridiculous. I went straight onto twitter and just vented.” Thompson’s early morning tweet left no room for uncertainty about her stance: “I’ve found my ladyballs.. #ThankGod #ForAWomansAbility #f***off.” “I thought it was so insulting and then when I found out afterwards it was a gimmick, I thought it was brilliant” laughs Thompson.
“It was absolutely class because the whole place was talking about it. It brought up the profile of women’s sport. I think camogie needs something like it, but they will have to do something better as it was so good.” “It would be great if camogie got in there too, because you see so much Gaelic football and hurling on TV, you won’t see as much women’s sport. If camogie got something like that it would bring us up another level.” Thompson fears camogie has fallen behind: “We’ve had a lot of improvements over the last number of years, camogie is a lot bigger now but we’re still bottom of the pile when you compare us to other sports.” “Ladies football is really out there! And that was a really quiet sport, nobody could hear or see it.”
Women’s sport has grown over recent years, with other sport especially women’s soccer being organised on a national basis, however Thompson believes camogie will hold its own on a competitive landscape.
“I think the market and player pool will always be there, it was always camogie for me” insists Thompson. “I played other things. I played soccer as well and was on underage Irish teams.
“I knew with soccer you could get to a certain level and go professional and that you get to travel and do so much. But I always picked camogie. Camogie is my first love.
“I think if you really and truly love the sport you will stick by it no matter what. That’s my view and I think that is the view of most inter-county players.”
The 25-year-old misses tomorrow’s opening National League Division One fixture against Limerick in Rathkeale as she focuses on Milford’s All-Ireland Club final against Kilimor on March 6.
Thompson, a self-employed physical therapist, will be back with the Cork team once her club commitments are completed admitting she has no plans to call time on her medal laden career.
“I’ll play sport until I can’t and I’ll play inter-county until I can’t. I have absolutely no intention of retiring or travelling, maybe I might take a year out, but that’s not on my mind right now.”
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