Monday, April 14, 2014

Could you play on the Irish Girls Sevens team?

Follow links  below to Irish

I spotted this earlier today while working (well there may have been some procrastination but it lead to a blog-post which makes it work). 

The profile of women's rugby was hugely raised in Ireland last year when the senior team won the Grand Slam, and exciting to see this trickling down now to the junior levels.

 Full details on the Irish Rubgy Football Union website here.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Watch: Sweat, perspire, glow women in sport

Some cheery thoughts from English sports women to get your weekend off to a good start!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Women in Sport blog time again

Blog round-up time. I'm looking at women in MuayThai this month.

MuayThai on the Brain

Pic is Ray as the centre-fold poster pullout of Thai boxing bible Siam Weekly
Former MuayThai champion Melissa Ray decided to stay on in Bangkok after her retirement, and this blog brings her love for the city together with her passion for sport. It's a great read with posts on self-declared 'super-pimp' turned politican Chuvit Kamaolvisit mixed in with reviews of all the boxing stadiums, and fight highlights. 
Ray does go back to the UK occasionally, but reading these posts you can't see her love for Thailand disappearing anytime soon ...

Creegan on left squares up against Elaine McElligott via Irish Examiner

You might well be wondering what pandas have to do with MuayThai, or indeed why there's a big Toblerone bar on Creegan's boxing shorts but you'll have to read the blog to find out.

An Irish fighter, she moved to Thailand earlier and has been fighting, and getting to know the joys of a Thai gym one bruise at a time. Includes a great post with photos on fighting at festivals with this: "We were told the minivan was coming at 6…….2 hours later it will be here in 20 minutes……we eventually left at just before 9pm. But before that Jun came knocking to say that the promoter had no gloves for the fights!!".

Screen shot of MuayEireann homepage
This hybrid blog/news-site is giving a much-needed voice to the Irish MuayThai scene. Starting with the crushing elbow shot pictured at the top of the page you know you' re in for a treat.They cover women's MuayThai as well  - here's hoping the pic changes sometimes.

Medical advice and video interviews with some top trainers mix in with psychology. Yes, psychology. There some involved you know, it's not that easy to beat down the "flight" part of "fight or flight".

Do you know any websites or blogs looking at women's sports? Let me know, I'm happy to promote them here. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's really going on with funding for the Irish women's football team

The Irish soccer team came achingly close to a surprise victory over Germany at the weekend, but it wasn't to be. The final score after a last-minute goal was Rep of Ireland 2 Germany 3.

There's a full match report online here if you need it, but this post is more of a look behind the scenes at the team's efforts.

Denise O’Sullivan of Ireland is challenging Dzsenifer Marozsan of Germany at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Bongarts/Getty Images VIA Irish Times 

There's been some Twitter noise in Ireland about the women's team allegedly losing their 'per diem' allowance this year, and claims the men get better treatment. But when I looked into it with the Football Federation of Ireland, that's not exactly the whole story.

Team manager Sue Ronan had this to say: 

"The per diems (daily allowances) were taken away but that happened to all international teams in the FAI except the senior men's squad. We were treated equally.

Our budget for the senior team this year is €360,000 – double the amount of the men's U-21 team.

The players don't want for anything when they're in camp – they stay in top hotels like Carton House. Our squad has played 24 internationals in the past two years compared to 15 in the three years before that.

We're aiming to raise the profile of women's football – that's what the money goes towards."

These are things we don't highlight enough I think when it comes to women's sport - it's not all bad news all the time. 

The figures show €1.14m has been spent on the women’s senior team in the last three years. And a spokesman said this year the planned spend is higher than ever. 

Much of this money goes on behind-the-scenes work - things like training, backroom team and dietary requirements. The training camps might open your eyes  - a week in January with two "games behind closed doors" against Holland and England, at La Manga football club/resort in Spain. This was followed up last month by 10 days at the Cyprus Cup. Ten days, four international matches against New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and Canada. 

The players on the Irish team all play with clubs as well in the Bus Eireann National League. But just in case that training isn't enough they also do weekly strength-and-conditioning as a national squad. 

The spokesman also pointed out that the great (my word) facilities at Tallaght Stadium are now available to the women for all home matches.  

So there you are, women's soccer in a pretty healthy state in Ireland.  All you have to do now is get down to some games! 

Handy Factoids on Funding:  (thanks FAI

  • Women’s emerging talent programmes have been set up U12, U14, U16, U18 nationwide.
  • Bus Éireann National Women’s League - €300k spend in last three years.
  • Soccer sisters programmes rolled out nationwide for 921 participants annually.
  • FAI Summer soccer schools had 1800 female participants last year.
  • FIFA Live Your Goals programme for female players saw 987 girls participate in five separate venues.
  • Numbers of registered female players have doubled in the last five years.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Anja Niedringhaus and her eye for sports

This is a slightly-off topic post.

Anja Niedringhaus pic AP via Guardian 
German photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed on Friday, while working in Afghanistan. You may not immediately recognise her name but there is a very good chance you will recognise her photographs. Especially if you have an interest in the wars being fought in Afghanistan, and in the past in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and more. The tributes online all contain words like bravery, courage and spirit, and apparently lots of laughter in the midst of all that.

While browsing her website, I realised she also took incredible sports photographs - and again they are photographs you have seen from Wimbledon, World Athletics Championships, the Olympics and many more.

These are not your typical sports photographs, take a look and you'll see what I mean. My favourite is Jamaican sprinter Rosemarie Whyte standing in the rain just before a major race.

Follow this link to Anja Niedringhaus website Sports. 

UPDATE:  At the end of March 2015 the Afghan Supreme Court sentenced a policeman to 20 years in prison for killing Niedringhaus. According to the New York Times the man Commander Naqibullah did not offer any reasons for the shooting, merely stating he is not a normal man. Full court report and comments from Niedringhaus' employer AP here on NYT site.

A photojournalism award in her name was also awarded in March  - fittingly going to another brave female snapper Heidi Levine. The American has worked in the Middle East since the 1980s.