Sarah O'Dwyer: You never hear of a boys team being put on the 'second pitch' to make room for the girls...

'Lack of respect for women’s sport has become such a common occurrence that the Kildare intermediate camogie team can just be added to the long list of teams not afforded basic facilities to train in'
Sarah O'Dwyer: You never hear of a boys team being put on the 'second pitch' to make room for the girls...

In a welcome move, Páirc Uí Chaoimh has host camogie and ladies football action in recent years. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

I STARTÉD last week’s column with a statement from a female rugby player who said that the sport was “seen as a bit of a joke” by some men and women in society.

Well, as sure as day turns to night, another week passes and yet another women’s team have come forward to highlight issues including access to dressing rooms and showers after training.

When I was younger, I played different sports (never to a particularly high level mind). While playing one of those sports - ladies football - I did long-term damage to my ankle.

That’s because as females, we were forced to play a match on the back pitch or the second at a particular club to facilitate men’s football training. The pitch we were playing on had a considerable number of holes in it.

I was running for a ball, my foot went into a hole and I snapped the ligaments in my ankle. To this day I still have discomfort in that ankle.

I have never heard of a men’s or boys' team being given a ‘second pitch’ to facilitate women. Even if they have once or twice, the instances are definitely few and far between.

And yes, I know the GAA is a separate organisation to the LGFA etc, but a match versus training when players are representing the same club shows the low level of respect that women’s sport often gets.

I remember another occasion where we were also forced to play an underage game in the snow – probably U16 at the time - which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen in a men’s GAA game.

I do remember going to three attempts at a Kilkenny v Tipperary senior hurling league final one year, at least two of which ended up being put off because of snow despite supporters having travelled. But no, the underage girls were expected to play through a blizzard.

Both those incidents I was involved in happened a long time ago, and I had hoped things would have moved on somewhat.

But, I feel like the lack of respect for women’s sport has become such a common occurrence that the Kildare intermediate camogie team can just be added to the long list of teams across a range of sports that haven’t been afforded basic facilities to train in.

Kildare intermediate camogie team issued an open letter to the camogie clubs of Kildare last week. The letter was posted on the GPA Twitter account.

In it, the squad make claims that they had been withdrawn from the All-Ireland camogie championship this season, and were informed of the news via WhatsApp.

They said they had been in ongoing discussions with the county board and that a “charter, agreed by the players, the executive and the management team, was not being adhered to”.

They listed having no access to showers and changing rooms after training as being an issue.

Alongside this, a decision had been made by the county board, they claimed, that meant that senior inter-county camogie players were not permitted to play with their clubs, even at the discretion of the manager.

They also stated that they had informed the county board they would “withdraw from the panel as a result of this mistreatment in hope that they would rectify these issues”.

“We are not asking for the world,” the statement says. “We’re asking for the minimum standards that had been agreed to be put in place, through our squad charter, to be adhered to by our county board.”


Similar problems were highlighted a number of years ago by the Ireland women’s soccer team. They highlighted issues such as having to change in toilets and share kits – now they’ve qualified for the World Cup.

They’re a concrete example of what can be done when the proper facilities and procedures are put in place.

I cannot understand why this keeps happening to women’s teams. I cannot understand why people are in positions of power in these sporting organisations if they’re not trying to better the situation for the players involved. What is the point?

The same commitment is expected from female players as males in this day and age, so why can they not be treated with the same respect?

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