Áine O'Gorman: Women's league should be 'striving to get semi-professional'

Aine O’Gorman finished the season with a League and Cup double at Peamount United but knows boosting resources is integral to improving the professionalism
Áine O'Gorman: Women's league should be 'striving to get semi-professional'

Aine O'Gorman of Republic of Ireland in action against Marina Hegering of Germany during a European Championships qualifier last year. Picture: Marcel Kusch/Sportsfile

Áine O’Gorman hopes a new sponsorship deal for the women’s national league can begin a journey towards the extinction of “pay for play”.

The Ireland international is one of the few fortunate members of the WNL who are personally sponsored.

The vast majority across the eight teams must shell out for annual club subscriptions and find themselves penalised for success by having to fundraise to meet the costs of playing in the Champions League.

Players have spoken previously of engaging in activities such as bag-packing in supermarkets to make ends meet before they represent the country on the European stage.

Any move towards progressing from that low base was hindered by the domestic league losing its flagship sponsorship for 2020 but, following that 12-month hiatus, SSE Airtricity have stepped in to seal an accord with the FAI adding the women’s league to the men’s equivalent.

The 31-year-old will be interested to see precisely what benefits the new sponsorship deal will accrue to players in the women’s league.

O’Gorman finished the season with a League and Cup double at Peamount United but knows boosting resources is integral to improving the professionalism.

Plans

She’s been encouraged by Bohemians, only in the league since last year, setting a landmark in committing to waiving subs and reimbursing the expenses of all players and staff.

“I spoke to some people in SSE Airtricity earlier today and they do have great plans,” she said.

"They are really excited to have the WNL onboard but nothing is set in stone yet. It’s in their hands now. All we can do is improve our standards and hopefully the rest will happen.

“We should be striving to get semi-professional. We have to look at getting rid of pay to play first.

“The move by Bohemians is a step in the right direction, as is Noel King returning to the women’s game to manage Shelbourne, but the reality is that at most clubs we do have to pay a fee.

It's up to us in a lot of situations to go and get a sponsorship. I'm pretty sure that's the same right across the board and something we’re looking at.

“I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case in Peamount next season. The clubs do the best they can, they need the money to run the club if they want to be professional by getting buses to matches, food before training, physios at games as well.

Peamount's Aine O'Gorman presents the FAI Women's National League to Peamount supporter Sean Kirwin. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

Peamount's Aine O'Gorman presents the FAI Women's National League to Peamount supporter Sean Kirwin. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

"The backing of SSE Airtricity - and hopefully increased prizemoney – will mean that hopefully there won’t be a situation where players don't have to pay anymore.

"To improve the league, we should be striving for at least semi-professional level. I don’t know of any player getting paid.”

On the topic of money, talks between the players and FAI over equal pay have yet to kick off.

The FAI have come under pressure from the Irish government to emulate other associations such as Brazil, Norway, England and New Zealand by paying their men’s and women’s the same fee for international appearances.

Compared to the €2,500 basic fee received by Stephen Kenny’s players for representing their country, Vera Pauw’s squad are paid a measly €500.

Ireland full-back Matt Doherty has publicly supported the campaign of rectifying the disparity.

“I think all sports organisations should be striving for that but there’s been no formal conversations around that,” said the centurion.

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