Extra Time

Opening Shot – Ladies football needs support

Until the GAA and the Ladies Football association are fully amalgamated, then the latter won't get the help it needs

Until the GAA and the Ladies Football association are fully amalgamated, then the latter won’t get the help it needs

By John Hughes

January, the worst month of the year we are told by bored disk jockeys the nation over. The month of the crash diet, the empty pockets, the interminable short evenings. In GAA it’s also the month of the reconvened AGM.

At the end of a long season it can be hard to muster the enthusiasm for an AGM, particularly when it’s likely to be sparsely attended and being present is likely to end up with further jobs shunted your way.

So it isn’t uncommon for club or sub-committee AGMs to be shunted into the New Year when people have at least had the opportunity to forget the travails of the previous year.

Like Aston Villa at the start of the Premiership season they look ahead with all the naive hope that a few weeks away from the grind can bring.

In our own club the Ladies AGM has been reconvened for a third time this Sunday. It’s a situation which has flagged up some factors which might merit wider consideration.

The ladies section in our club is run by a very small group of people. In many cases they are people who have been at the barricades for a good few years.

One of the main problems highlighted is the perception that underage ladies are part of the underage boys set up and so people feel less inclined to get involved as they have the notion that ladies only looks after adult ladies football.

That’s an unfortunate misconception for clubs trying to winkle out volunteers whatever way they can.

It’s a misconception that all the information campaigns in the world are unlikely to correct in any meaningful fashion.

The question you have to ask is why should we be asking people to comprehend the administrative arcana of the GAA and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association?

The LGFA came into being in 1974 and integration with the GAA has long been a goal for both associations, or at least that’s the PR spin.

The existence of separate bodies is a major pain in the backside for clubs committed to providing access to football for boys and girls, men and women.

Registration fees for ladies are an order of magnitude greater than those for males registered with the GAA. This automatically puts a financial disincentive in the way of any club considering opening their doors to the ladies code.

Fixtures are a huge problem. It would make sense for LGFA fixtures to be on the same online infrastructure as the GAA uses. Because it isn’t, discovering when club LGFA fixtures are on can seem like a exercise in unearthing the secrets of Fatima.

As has already been pointed out, the ambiguity about the relationship between the GAA and LGFA has a negative impact on volunteerism.

The fact that the LGFA operates in GAA clubs, but maintains separate structures is deeply confusing for outsiders looking in.

What those of us on the inside at grassroots level are wondering is why the hell is integration taking so long? There have been two associations in existence for over 40 years now.

We know the issues to be addressed and the advantages to be gained, what is the hold up?
Surely, in the wide array of issues facing the GAA this is one of the easier ones to resolve.

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