JASON Brown is just over a year into his role as chairman of the Cork Women and Schoolgirls Soccer League and in that time he, and their committee, have had to deal with unprecedented issues.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus and the three prolonged Lockdowns that have subsequently followed has made running the CWSSL more difficult than ever.
Seasons have been postponed or cancelled while plans to progress the league as a whole have also been put on hold.
But the resilience of the people involved in the league at least ensured the senior division was able to be completed in 2020, and now they hoping for the chance to finish the schoolgirls’ campaign, which has been paused since October, in the very near future.
“The good thing with the women’s senior league and the schoolgirl’s league is that we have a very positive, vibrant community,” says Brown.
“Once we have a start date, we will sit down with the women’s league, we will sit down with the schoolgirls and we will see what we can do.
“The feedback we are getting from everybody at the minute is that ‘look, we just want to get back as quickly as we can,’ but it’s when it’s safe to do so and doing it in a practical and safe manner.
“Ideally, if we could get some sort of roadmap that says ‘right, on such a date you can go back but it’s no contact and following so long then you can go back to full contact and then matches or whatever.’
“Our WhatsApp groups are quite busy, we’re all numerous projects which involves a lot of Zoom calls and we’re all getting Zoomed out a little bit now.
“We are all football people and we want to see kids back on the pitches, women back on the pitches, and the social element where you are going to games return.
“We have a lot of exciting initiatives that we are looking to start and we are just sitting on our hands at the minute waiting for the green light to get things going.”
The league has grown significantly in the last few years and there are currently over 2,000 footballers registered to play for the 100 or so teams across the 32 clubs involved.
With that, the standard of football has also improved and the Cork City Women’s have been a major benefactor of that as some local players have progressed onto their set up.
But they too have seen players move on to bigger opportunities with Lauren Egbuloniu and Éabha O’Mahony, who started playing football initially with the CWSSL’s Passage and Lakewood Athletic respectively, just two rising stars moving to Universities in America on a scholarship this summer.
“The league is growing, the number of clubs year on year is growing, the number of girls participating is growing and the number of coaches getting involved with clubs is growing,” added Brown.
“And because of those numbers, the standard of football is fantastic. You’ll see over the next number of years, Cork has always had a strong tradition of producing players. We are hoping to see more and more girls go on.
“It will be great to look in five or 10 years to see where they are. The increase in the number of girls going to places like America and the UK is fantastic.
“We want to see the best girls going on, it’s fantastic to see that and we want to do whatever we can to help them develop but that’s not the only challenge for our league.
“First and foremost, we want to increase the enjoyment and participation levels. Then if we have done that and we have more clubs and we have a vibrant league in Cork, then it’s inevitable that we are going to produce more and more good players.
“We will be looking to expand the number of clubs in the league and we are always happy to welcome new players.”
Brown, and the league, encourages any females interested in playing soccer this year to visit their website CWSSL.ie where they can find a club that suits them.
And hopefully, with a bit of luck, senior and schoolgirls football will return in the near future.