Huge inequalities remain between male and female GAA players

GPA have revealed the harsh reality in their State of Play report outlining the concerns of ladies football and camogie players
Huge inequalities remain between male and female GAA players

Meath All-Star Vicky Wall at the GPA State of Play Equality Report Launch. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

THE gap between male and female athletes in the GAA sphere has been increasing during the last century, with may female players finding in nearly impossible to keep playing at an intercounty level with the lack of assistance they get.

It’s no secret that female players across both GAA and Camogie struggle with access to training facilities, physiotherapy, gym, gear, and travel expenses.

These are all key elements needed for a player to succeed at a high level and you would think that in 2023, female athletes would have access to these basic needs, but it does not seem to be the case.

Last week, the Gaelic Players Association launched its State of Play equality report, which surveyed 1,579 female inter-county players, with startling information about the inequality that exists across the female codes.

Tom Parsons, GPA CEO and former All-Star has called on the GAA, LGFA and Camogie associations to work together to lessen the gap between male and female athletes and give more support overall to the female representation in our national sports.

“It is unfortunately the player who suffers from prolonged pain or absence when they do not have regular access to a centralised physio or suffers a loss of form when they cannot afford to travel to training.”

One of the most astonishing findings in the report is the comparison between facilities and expenses readily available for male players compared to that of the females surveyed.

The GAA/GPA annual guaranteed provisions for male players include 70c per mile for travel expenses, a €20 nutritional allowance per week, meals after training and games, S&C and gym access, physio and medical support, training gear, match kit, leisure wear, hurls, helmets, footwear, nutritionist support and complimentary tickets for league and championship games. This is an incredible amount of support and added benefits when you line it up against the female side of the sport.

A clear disparity is the milage expenses that female players more than often do not receive.

Out of the 1,579 women that took part in the survey, only 9.5% receive travel expenses from their county boards with 6% receiving less than 20c per mile, compared to their male counterparts who get 50c more.

An average of 4,546 miles were travelled for intercounty activity in 2022 with 13% of the females regularly/sometimes missing training due to the cost of travel. How is any female player going to be able to compete and maintain a high standard of athleticism if they can’t even make it to the training?


What makes these figures even worse is that 71% of them said they do not have full access to suitable pitches.

Not only are the GAA/GPA attempting to rectify the travel expenses issue, but with this new evidence they also find themselves looking for better training facilities, which should be there in the first place.

Unsuitable pitches lead to injuries which lead to physio appointments and recovery which is also rarely covered by county boards. 48% of players paid to see a physio during their inter-county season with an average cost of €220.

It seems to be a never-ending cycle of spending for any female that is at the elite level of GAA or camogie and this report hammers home the imbalance that still remains between the genders.

It is understandable that many female intercounty players hang up their boots to concentrate on their jobs when you see the shocking treatment they receive.

The most annoying part of the report is that what players are lacking are all basic things to allow an athlete to reach their full potential.

There would be uproar if things like physios, team doctors, gyms or pitches were not regularly or always available for the male players of the game, so why is there such a difference for females?

The priorities for the GPA going forward is to fund travel expenses, get a squad charter in place and to prioritize female-specific supports which will hopefully lead to a joint working group for Camogie, GAA, LGFA and GPA to improve the training and playing experience for female players in tandem with progress towards integration.

There is no doubt that this is a huge task and one that will not be completed in a year, but it is time for change if there is to be any hope for our female GAA and camogie players going forward.

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