Ireland’s 20x20 campaign will take another step forward today with the launch of a club charter asking organisations throughout the island to make a public declaration of their support for women in sport.
Clubs that sign up to the charter will receive a 20x20 flag to fly at their clubhouse, or to use at community events, all with the intention of increasing the visibility of women’s sport and changing a culture that has for too long accepted a class system when it comes to the two sexes.
“20x20 is all about shifting Irish culture towards valuing women’s sport more,” said 20x20 campaign manager Sharon O’Connor. “The club charter is really about starting a conversation in your club and looking at your club structure and what you can do. We are not about dictating what they should do. We are more about suggesting things that they could consider.
“Often it is the case that certain things just haven’t been considered. One of the suggestions in the charter is that women’s sport in the club is on every agenda and every meeting. That may not currently be the case because there may only be one team or one player, the minority. So it is just about suggesting things and the club determining what is best for them.”
The 20x20 campaign has enjoyed considerable success already and there is a clear sense of progress in the bid nationally and internationally to promote women’s sport in terms of participation numbers, attendances and media.
Over 5,000 tickets have been sold for tonight’s crucial European Championship qualifier between the Republic of Ireland and Greece in Tallaght and over 6,000 people watched the Ireland women’s rugby team take on France at Donnybrook last year.
Over one hundred thousand watched the last two senior Ladies Football finals in Croke Park and all of this feeds naturally into the ‘If she can’t see it she can’t be it’ initiative last year. Replicating this sort of growth further down the pyramid is another matter.
There are no recorded attendances for any women’s AIL games, for instance, but that will change on April 4 when Railway Union and Suttonians meet at Park Avenue in the last round of regular league fixtures and attempt to attract the biggest crowd ever to a game in their domestic league.
Railway Union, reigning league champions, are running the campaign with the #ChangeTheGame hashtag. All proceeds from the event will go to LauraLynn, Ireland’s Children’s Hospice. Tickets cost €10 for adults, €5 for students while U18s go free and are available on Eventbrite.
“One of the things that is so heartening about 20x20 is that when we do identify something and ask the general public to engage and move Ireland towards a healthier, more inclusive society they answer,” said O’Connor. “The general public answers.
“We created the club charter because we have been inundated with emails and calls of support and questions about how clubs across the island can support 20x20. It’s hugely inspiring that they ask the question and Railway Union are a prime example of that.”