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Women in Sport Funding

Sport Ireland today announced an investment in its Women in Sport Programme of €4million over the two years 2021 and 2022, with Volleyball Ireland receiving 40k per annum, an increase of 15k per year.

This investment aims to support NGBs and enhance all aspects of female involvement across the Women in Sport policy target areas namely, Coaching & Officiating, Active Participation, Leadership & Governance and Visibility.

Volleyball is one of the few team sports in Ireland where female participation exceeds male (61%). As the fifth most participated sport in the world, Volleyball provides a unique opportunity to help reduce the female – male inequalities that exist across Irish sport.

Volleyball Ireland General Manager Gary Stewart said, “We’re delighted to receive an increase in our Women in Sport funding which shows the value of our contribution to Irish Sport. Whilst the Education programmes we will be delivering may predominantly focus on Women & Girls, there will be a benefit to all players within the Volleyball community and we fully expect to see this investment directly lead to a growth in participation of Men & Boys. Ultimately, more coaches & referees has a knock on effect for everyone. Our application was very much built on the set criteria to reduce inequalities that currently exist and I’d like to thank the team at Sport Ireland for this continued support. ”

Volleyball Ireland’s WIS programmes will cover all four strands of the Sport Ireland fund, including a key focus on Coaching & Officiating and Active Participation.

Coaching & Officiating
Females account for 61% of all licensed players within Ireland, yet;
• Only 40% of International, Premier or Division One Referees are female.
• Only 30% of Level one or higher coaches are female.
• Only 39% of total coaches are female.
Comparing these statistics to an overall participation of 61% female suggests a clear inequality in a key aspect of the sport. Several programmes including a new Coach & Referee Development and mentor programme will be established to support more Women through the Coaching & Officiating pathway.

Active Participation
Adult Volleyball participation in Ireland has been consistently growing for the last four years (14% per year). However, the number of Irish born female players has remained relatively stagnant, with a small drop of 2% to 31% in 2019/20. Whilst the multi-cultural diversity of our membership is to be celebrated (69% are foreign nationals) we need to do more to ensure there is a clear pathway from participation at school level into clubs. The WIS funding will help:
• Expand the DIVA programme to grow Social Volley initiatives for all age groups
• Expand the Junior Girls National League Programme adding a new u14 age group competition
• Launch a new Social Volley Parks League
• Create an introductory programme for new Beach Volleyball players
• Develop a youth participation project for young players aged 11-14, creating sustainable school>club links.

Leadership & Governance
Female representation at Leadership & Governance level is something of pride for Volleyball Ireland with gender balance across the Board, Commissions and at club level.
• Board: 56% Female
• Commissions: 52% Female
• Club Secretaries: 58% Female.

We will look to build on this work with further training and networking opportunities for leaders within the sport. We also aspire to have representation at International decision making level.
Within our leadership makeup, only 28% of female leaders are foreign nationals which is proportionately low versus participation (61%). To help reduce this gap we will deliver promotional campaigns that showcase the cultural diversity of the sport in Ireland and the successes foreign nationals are having within Ireland.

A number of initiatives have been developed that have risen to good digital growth with a doubling of social media followers on Volleyball Ireland channels in the last two years.

A new weekly newsletter is published to a subscriber list of over 1800 people (up 12% versus October 2020). Whilst Volleyball globally is hugely popular, in Ireland gaining mainstream media attention without a marketing & communications resource or budget is a significant challenge. With this in mind we aim to:
• Develop a partnership with a live stream broadcast company to improve the quality of live stream
• Deliver a range of promotional activities promoting female leaders in Volleyball
• Develop an ambassadors programme to create positive peer role models for young people
• Facilitate social media and marketing training for club PR officers
• Develop innovative partnerships that will raise the profile of Volleyball

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD welcomed today’s announcement, stating: “Addressing the participation gap in sport and physical activity for women and girls is a priority of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027. In recent years we have seen some improvements in this area. The Government and Sport Ireland are committed to continuing this work with the aim of eliminating the participation gap by 2027.”
Chief Executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy added: “The appointment of Nora Stapleton as Women in Sport Lead in Sport Ireland, as well as the appointment of leads in many NGBs has led to the creation of a network with increased levels of information sharing, collaboration and delivery of joint initiatives amongst the sector. This network, along with the wider NGB sector are working hard to promote sport and physical activity to women and girls. The funding announced today will not only see a diverse range of sports available to the female Irish public but an increase in the visibility of females be that as role models on the pitch or playing field, on boards or in the media.

Further information on Volleyball Ireland’s Women in Sport Action Plan is available here. WIS action plan pdf