Cork ladies footballer Orlagh Farmer feels it is important to understand the needs and wants of young girls if we are to keep them involved in sport and to see the high dropout rate at teenage level reduce drastically.
She was speaking as the Ladies Gaelic Football Association announced ZuCar as the association’s official Performance Partner.
A four-year arrangement will also see the LGFA introduce the ZuCar Golden Boot award – which will be presented to the leading scorer in the 2021 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championships.
In addition, the ZuCar Golden Glove award will acknowledge outstanding goalkeeping performances throughout the championships. ZuCar will also become title sponsors of the LGFA’s #Gaelic4Teens Development Programme.
Orlagh also remarked on the great rivalry between Cork and Dublin, with the latter having the upper hand at the moment.
She felt that Cork put it up to Dublin in their group game but was disappointed with their showing in the league final.
“We have used that game going in the championship, I think we put it up to them in the first league game but we were disappointed with the league final. We have learned a lot from it and have used it as a motivating factor ahead of the championship games.
“Our intensity was good and we were happy with our work rate and with the short turnaround we have to put what we are learning into practice very fast. I think we have taken what we have learned from the league on board and we are two championship games in now and thankfully we won both.
“We have a break now this week so it will be a tough training and one where we can put what we have learned from them into practice. We have some young players coming in so it's about getting the balance right at sessions.
“We will be working on getting the ball in quicker, working on our intensity, and trying to get more scores on the board as well. Work rate is always something I am big on and something you need in every game.
“Meath and Tipperary were tough games, especially playing in the heat last weekend. With Meath the intensity in the game was massive and with Tipp we needed to be focused from the start. There is nothing between a lot of teams so focus from the start is vital.”
On a personal level, it has been a busy year for Orlagh, and recently she had to 'defend' her PhD, which was based on the development of the Gaelic4Girls programme.
This means she had to present it on a three-hour call to show what her work was about and 'defend' it to those who were asking questions about it, in what was an oral exam on her research.
“I always say I was 'footballed' out of it when I was doing my PhD but I always remembered Eamonn Ryan saying to us to park everything when you come to training and forget about it and go out on the pitch and just train and enjoy it.
“Put that focus 100% on that training session and that's something I had to do with the PhD, when I went out to play or train I just had to forget about it and concentrate on what I was doing at that time."
Orlagh was involved in a TV series with Anna Geary based in a school in Dublin to encourage young girls to get involved and stay involved in sport, be it GAA or any other sport.
“Anna reached out to the Gaelic4teens ambassadors when she was filming for the show 'Why Girls Quit Sport' and because I had my work done on this for my PhD she asked me to come on board and help her design training sessions for the girls. We tried to put ourselves in the girls' shoes and it was great to go up to the school in Dublin and work with her for the duration of the programme.
“It was brilliant to be involved and it's so important that we give that coverage for young girls and to make a change you have to understand their needs, their wants, what they like, and what it will take for them to stay involved in sport.
“A national programme like this might get teachers, coaches, parents, and girls themselves talking about this and what needs to change. So it was fantastic to be involved in the show and hopefully, it will encourage more girls to get involved in sport,” concluded Orlagh.
Ladies Gaelic Football Association President Mícheál Naughton said: “We are delighted to welcome on board ZuCar as the LGFA’s Official Performance Partner.
“This is a wonderful fit for the LGFA, as we begin our partnership with a company that prides itself on performance and excellence.
“We look forward to handing over the Golden Boot and Golden Glove awards at the end of the TG4 All-Ireland Championship season, and we’re also delighted to announce ZuCar as the new official sponsor of #Gaelic4Teens, which is a hugely important development programme.
“ZuCar have shown terrific faith in the LGFA by agreeing to partner with us for a four-year period, as we emerge from an incredibly challenging time for sport and business.
“We now look forward to a long and fruitful partnership, and I wish ZuCar CEO Gavin Hydes and his hard-working team continued success.”
Gavin Hydes, ZuCar CEO, added: “I am extremely proud and excited to launch our four-year sponsorship with the LGFA as Performance Partner. I am also very enthusiastic about our sponsorship of the LGFA’s initiative encouraging young players’ development through the #Gaelic4Teens initiative.
“At ZuCar, we share the same philosophy of investing in our people and providing long-term career opportunities from within. ZuCar is an exciting new car brand that provides customers with a new way of buying and selling cars.
“We believe in supporting and giving back to the communities that we serve, and we look forward to building on this exciting Performance partnership for many years to come.”