We need to realise that women’s sport is strong, valuable... and worth celebrating
This year has been good one for Irish sport.
The hockey team made a World Cup final - a first for any Irish team in any discipline.
Our U20 sprinters took silver at the World Championships. And we clinched a World Championships rowing title in Bulgaria. Last week, we scooped a silver medal at the 100m breaststroke final at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games.
Impressive stuff. Yet all of the above represents just a handful of the particularly incredible achievements made by our female athletes over the last 12 months.
Add into the mix the record-breaking 50,000 who watched the Ladies Football Final between Cork and Dublin in Croke Park, and it's clear that female-driven sport is enjoying something of a moment.
Now it's up to all of us to ensure that this moment becomes something far more impactful - more than just a momentary flash-in-the-pan. Which is why a new, two-year long initiative for women in sport is so vitally important for us all to get behind.
With the tagline of "if she can't see it, she can't be it," the 20x20 movement has three targets to reach by 2020:
- 20 percent more media coverage of women in sport
- 20 percent more female participation
- 20 percent more attendance at women’s competitions and events
At Maximum Media, we want to do our bit too - and we're proud that Her and SportsJOE is backing the 20X20 movement, which was developed by the creative agency, Along Came A Spider.
The campaign furthermore has the support of the Federation of Irish Sport and Healthy Ireland.
"National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships, clubs, universities, schools, leisure centres, community groups and the general public are being asked to pledge one action to show their support by doing anything that can accelerate progress for women’s sport in Ireland," a statement read on Monday, October 15 as the movement was officially launched in Dublin.
— 20x20 (@20x20_ie) October 11, 2018
"Individuals are being asked to share their pledge idea by visiting the 20x20 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"People can also show their support by putting the two 20x20 stripes on both cheeks and posting using #20x20, #ShowYourStripes and #CantSeeCantBe online."
We’re excited to be at the @20x20_ie launch this morning, an all-inclusive movement to shift Ireland’s cultural perception of women’s sport.
As an official sponsor of #20x20 and @LadiesFootball, we pledge to make women in sport part of who we are. #CantSeeCantBe pic.twitter.com/9hvBlszhe2
— Lidl Ireland (@lidl_ireland) October 15, 2018
The Irish female sporting heroes taking part include:
- Louise Quinn (Irish International, Arsenal Footballer, and Three’s Ambassador for 20x20)
- Sarah Rowe (Mayo Senior Ladies Footballer and Lidl’s Ambassador for 20x20)
- Laura Twomey (Dublin Senior Camogie Player and AIG’s Ambassador for 20x20)
- Leona Maguire (professional golfer and KPMG’s Ambassador for 20x20)
- Stephanie Meadow (professional golfer and Investec’s Ambassador for 20x20)
For the official launch, which took place in Google's European HQ offices, Head Coach of Manchester United Women and former England Women's National Football player, Casey Stoney MBE, spoke to attendees about her experiences.
AIG is proud to support & be an official partner of the newly launched @20x20_ie campaign which seeks to increase media coverage, participation & attendance of women in sport by 20% by the year 2020. #CantSeeCantBe #ShowYourStripes #20x20 pic.twitter.com/Pza4bf5QYT
— AIG Ireland (@AIGIreland) October 15, 2018
Also speaking was CEO of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane; 18 Time All-Ireland Cork Camogie and Ladies Football Champion Rena Buckley; Irish Women’s Hockey Head Coach Graham Shaw; Olympian and leading Horse Trainer Jessica Harrington, as well as Sport Ireland CEO, John Treacy.
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Casey Stoney revealed: "As a young girl I was told that football was just for boys and yet, I went on to play 130 times for England including at World Cups, European Championships and even representing GB at the London 2012 Olympics."
She added: "It is so important that girls and women have role models to whom they can relate. It is for this reason that I was so excited and delighted to get the opportunity to come and lend my support for the launch of 20x20. I believe if supported by all involved in sport it really could be a landmark moment for sport in this country."
Last event of #YouthOlympics for 100m Breaststroke Silver medallist Niamh Coyne today as she competes in the 200m Breaststroke Heats at 2.27pm. Mona McSharry is entered but will not compete to concentrate on the 50m Freestyle Final tonight! pic.twitter.com/F7l0kfhJtu
— Swim Ireland (@swimireland) October 12, 2018
CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said; "We want this campaign to stimulate behavioural change to ensure that subsequent generations have female role models to emulate as athletes, coaches, and referees."
Meanwhile, Sarah Colgan, CEO of Along Came A Spider explained: "By clubs giving greater parity to female teams, schools creating new opportunities for girls in sport, sports fans attending women’s events and parents encouraging their daughters, we’re hoping everyone will pledge one action to grow women’s sport in Ireland."