LAST weekend was the final round of games in the Cork schoolgirls league until the New year and after an entertaining start to the season, it’s a well earned break for all involved.
Fermoy, Corrinthians, Avondale, Carrigaline, Wilton United, are current table toppers in their various underage leagues but as we all know there is still a long way to go in the season and with the talent on show this season, I expect league positions could change within the first couple of weeks in the New Year.
It’s great to see the standard of football increasing each year and although many of the local clubs are suffering due to losing players to National league teams, an extra club this year to draw from teams will be Cobh Ramblers, but the standard is still very high and that’s great to see.
Recently, I caught up with newly-appointed Chairperson Alison Ryan, who will become the first Chairwoman of the league, and here she tells us about her journey to her new role and her plans for the coming season.
“It’s a great honour for me to be elected as the first woman chairperson of the CWSSL,” said Ryan.
“I take over from Jason Browne and I feel it’s great to have a woman lead the committee because we certainly need more women involved at all levels of the game.
"I was nominated by my club Leeside and I hope to do them proud in my new role.”
Coaxed into women’s football by her neighbour, Ryan who had no previous involvement but plenty of experience with kids as a girl guide leader, was thrown straight into the deep end and has taken on many roles in the club ever since.
“In 2014 my neighbour John Getting’s was running the girls soccer in Leeside and he asked me to get help out with registrations of the girls for the league.
"I was in the middle of doing a course in UL and didn’t have the time but I said ask me again when I am finished. As soon as I was finished in 2015 John asked me again and I said I would.
"I started with the registrations and ended up coaching and then took on the role of Schoolgirls Secretary for Leeside AFC which I am still doing.
“I never played soccer before but John and Kieran Horgan were great at showing me the ropes as they both have extensive experience in playing and coaching.
"I had a lot of experience of working with girls as I was a Girl Guide Leader for 20 years but no experience of coaching any sport. I started to do coaching courses as I felt I needed to build on the knowledge from John and Kieran. I was recently awarded my UEFA C Diploma.
"In some ways it was easier for me coming to coaching having not played myself as I didn’t have ideas of how things should be done and picked up all the new coaching methods.
"In addition I don’t have a child that plays so I can slot in with any age group as I am not following my child’s team.
“I am currently coaching girls from U9 – U13 and I slot in wherever there is a need to coordinate all the teams. I recently completed the referees course and I now referee matches every second week also.
"It is something that I never imagined I would do and I was terrified when I did my first match but I really enjoyed it. It would be great to see more people taking on the role and I haven’t yet had a bad experience of players or coaches giving out so that’s great.”
If she wasn’t busy enough, Ryan decided to fill in the role as Chairperson, which was becoming a difficult position to be filled and now she hopes to put her stamp on things.
“My approach is to listen, observe and review and then put forward suggestions as a chairperson.
"The CWSSL Committee currently has nine people, who have various roles from communicating with clubs, doing the weekly fixtures, reviewing the results and posting them and ensuring that all our practices are in line ensuring the welfare of the girls.
"There is also the work with the League Centres and the Gaynor Cup Squads. On top of that the committee also work with their own clubs. However I am looking forward to working with the committee and ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.”
The mother of one from Little Island has seen many developments in the women’s game over the years and here are her views on the National league.
“While the National league may be destroying some clubs in terms of number of players they are losing each year and not having enough to bring through to their senior teams, my personal opinion is that all clubs will have girls who are outstanding players and they need to be challenged in the games they play.
"If they feel they want to play in the National League and they get selected I am delighted for them as it is another step in their playing career and hopefully will lead to further success..
“Clubs need to look at their full squads and the focus of their teams needs to be all the squad.
"If the players who will not be in the elite category don’t feel as valued, they may stop playing and then when the elite players leave to play in the national league, the squad is depleted significantly.
"If a club loses one or two or three girls to a national league team the club who has maintained their squad will not be as impacted.
"My thoughts are nurture all the girls and give all the girls playing time as girls don’t turn up to sit on the bench.”