Saturday, December 21, 2013

Irish Sportswoman of the Year

Former international racing driver Rosemary Smith who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award and The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council ‘Sportswoman of the Year for 2013’ Fiona Coghlan at the Shelbourne Hotel. Photograph: Alan Betson  PIC Irish Times (link below) 
Fiona Coghlan, captain of the Irish rugby team has been named Irish Sports Council/ Irish Times SportsWoman of the Year.

It was great to see so many fantastic athletes listed for this title - she was picked from 12 monthly winners during the year, any of whom would have deserved the win! 

So why did she win? The Irish team took the Grand Slam title in February when they won the Six Nations tournament without losing a single match. 

This is a huge achievement in itself but when you think how hard women's rugby has had to struggle for recognition and support, it's a stand-out! I've been at a few of the Irish team's home-games and let's just say sometimes the crowed support wouldn't exactly fill the stands. Hopefully this will change now they've shown everyone what they can achieve. 

The whole team is in the running tonight for the Team of the Year awards from RTE, and manager Philip Doyle is up for manager of the year. 

But Sportswoman of the Year is a separate contest - done between the Irish Sports Council and The Irish Times. There is something very special about having these women recognised on their own. Johnny Watterson has a lovely interview with Coghlan here on the Irish Times website. 

But I loved, just loved this comment from the paper's Sports Editor at the end of that article: 

"Over the ten years of these awards, I have been struck by one particular thing, how unassuming the winners have been, whether Olympic champions or just monthly winners,” said Irish Times Sports Editor Malachy Logan. “They don’t carry the surly baggage of their male counterparts and what a refreshing change that is."

And so say all of us! 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Study says passion more effective than expensive facilities to get people playing sport

Cork Camogie U-16s All-Ireland Champions PIC: Cork Camogie
School students who play sports tend to better Leaving Certificate results than kids who don't - one of the more positive findings from a new study of the Irish and sport. 

Sadly, this is also one of the few positives. They did find that 'almost all' primary schoolchildren play some kind of sport which is great. But then ...the Drop-off. 

Essentially what you have is a curve of loads of kids playing sport, then hitting college or work and getting distracted by those things and alcohol and everything else the world has to offer. Of course when you get older you look back and wish like hell you'd done more sport when your knees didn't ache but too late then! 

The study - Keeping Them in the Game: Taking Up and Dropping Out of Sport and Exercise in Ireland - also found having fancy facilities doesn't help. It's all about interest and passion. 

(Ahem, this is sounding very similar to the TEDx speech I missed out on giving two weeks ago, really great to see I'm not a nutcase!) 

So, what else did they find? Girls drop out of sport during secondary school at a higher rate than boys - baffling. I've read so many reasons for this, everything from study to coaches who don't encourage them. It's very sad.

And this finding gets 'Duh! of the Year' - "School exams have a strong negative impact: students participate less in exam years and this has a lasting effect on whether they are active in later years."

Others reflect the irritating reality that work, family and other commitments do get in the way of being healthy. I'm guilty of this myself sometimes on a busy week - you can genuinely forget to exercise. So bad for you, but so hard to keep it going in times of madness.

And most worrying finding was the "widening socio-economic gap" as people from deprived backgrounds are less likely to have the chance to take up new sports as adults. 

Finally I was very happy to see the report's author Dr. Pete Lunn, ESRI saying this (in the press release): 

“The findings imply a need to change the way we think about promoting sport and exercise. We are good at getting children involved – it's keeping people involved as they get older that is the problem. The evidence suggests we could focus more on the major transitions in people's lives and try to make it easier for them to continue to be active.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Red Bulletin covers women in sport ... again

An actual athlete!
I haven't chucked 'The Red Bulletin' straight into the bin two months in a row, is this a record?

Cover story is skier Lindsay Vonn and inside you've got football goalie Emma Byrne - two pages - and sprinter Jodie Williams - five pages. 

Great photos of all three women and really solid articles. What's happening to this bastion of male sport? *tongue in cheek btw for anyone reading this early in the morning* 

If you're in Ireland, you can find the mag tucked inside today's Irish Times. And if not, some articles are online at Red Bulletin Magazine Ireland.

It's great to see Emma Byrne still getting attention, the most successful Irish female player, and even named Players' Player of the Year for both men and women in Arsenal where she keeps goal.

And while in one sense it shouldn't take a female journalist to highlight women in sport, I can't help feeling this Editor/writer below - Ruth Morgan -has a lot to do with the changes. 

There has been the odd article on women here and there, but these last two issues really ramped it up. 

Why am I giving this mag so much brain-space? 

Simples - it's one of the few more mainstream mags covering the sports I love and they have mostly ignored women like me and you.

That's a complaint I could spill over into most print media to be fair but as RB positions itself as the alternative sports leader, you expect them to offer a genuine alternative. 

What are your thoughts?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Photos from my undelivered TEDxCorkWomen speech

Last week I told you with great excitement I would give a speech at the TEDxCorkWomen event. But I didn't make it - there was a car-crash on the motorway but thankfully everyone survived. I'm feeling very lucky today, as are the other people involved I'm sure.

I do feel bad for everyone who generously donated great images of women in sport for my talk. So I've put the slides together in a video for you.

It's too big to upload directly to Blogger but if you follow the link here - Niamh Griffin on Animoto - it's all there. 

The wonderful speeches given on the night will be uploaded very soon to the TEDxCorkWomen website. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Women in the RTE Sports Awards 2013

Annalise Murphy PIC from RTE Awards
That's Irish Olympian Annalise Murphy there, the sole woman nominated for Person of the Year in the RTE Sports Awards 2013. She scooped Gold and the Laser Radial European Champion title in September at home in Dublin.

But this year it's in the team competition where women really get recognised. The Irish rugby team who won the Six Nations and Grand Slam 2013, the Cork Ladies Football team (All-Ireland champions eight times in nine years), and the Galway camogie team ( All-Ireland champions this year after a long drought) are all nominated. 

Also nominated is the Paralympic Swimming team which includes Olympians Bethany Firth and Ellen Keane. The team took home 8 medals from the recent World Championships - 3 silvers for Firth and two bronze for Keane among them.

The success of three of those teams have earned their (male) managers a place in the Manager of the Year category. Philip Doyle for the rugby, Tony Ward for the camogie and Eamonn Ryan for the football. 

If you're in Ireland, Team of the Year is a public vote - would be great to see one of the women's teams winning! Yes, that's a hint - get dialling on December 21st. Details here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Women in Sport blogs and websites

Time again for a round-up of some great blogs and websites promoting women in sport:
PIC: Re Wikstrom - from her Tumblr. (Click photo to go there)

Getting ready for the Winter Olympics in February next year? This snowboarding mag will keep you updated on who to watch for and what it's all about. Great video went up recently on British snowboarder Aimee Fuller (who Ireland are sort of claiming as she spent time in Northern Ireland as a child) 

Irish Olympian Michelle Carey was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2011 - having already been running for years! Her blog has recipes and other info based on her own experiences.

This site hasn't been updated since last year but the links still work. It's packed with info on resources, DVDs and equipment for pretty much any outdoors sport you care to try. 

And if you're looking for a cause to get behind before the next Summer Olympics - Canadian Pam Boteler and her fellow women canoeists are still fighting to get into the Games. (Slalom)

You have to smile when you read the 'About' on this American blog - "When I started Brave Ski Mom in the late summer of July 2010, my goal was to occupy my mind, and fill my days. My youngest was headed to middle school and was done with me showing up at school to volunteer. I was staring into the void. Without young children at home what would I do? So I turned to something I love more than anything except my family: skiing."