Soccer Sisters is a FAI programme with the aim of increasing the number of girls playing soccer nationwide. Girls aged 7-12years can learn to play soccer in a fun, friendly and safe environment; with an introduction to basic movements and soccer skills, girls are given the opportunity to learn the discipline and fundamental rules of the game while forging new friendships.
Sue Ronan, FAI Head of Women’s Football and former Republic of Ireland women’s national football team manager tells us her story and all we need to know about the Soccer Sisters initiative…
Q: How did you first get into football?
Oh, it was a long while ago now! So I just played football on the road as a child and progressed from there. I joined a team quite late on in my 20s, then played for the national team and then went straight on to training the national squad when I retired.
Q: Was it always your dream to have a career in football?
I always wanted to play football and I loved watching it, but there weren’t many careers in the area so it wasn't something I was aspiring to. But when the resources were being put into the game, I realised there were opportunities.
Q: Was soccer always your favourite sport?
I always loved soccer but I did play hockey when there was no football in schools for girls.
Q: Do you think the number of options in sport for girls is increasing at the minute?
Most definitely! I listen with envy now when I hear about all the options that girls have in schools and colleges. It’s fantastic.
Q: How did the Soccer Sisters initiative come about?
We launched in 2006 and the main targets were to improve the standards and increase the number of girls playing. We thought that school halls would be an encouraging environment for girls who had never played before as it was safe and dry etc. We started by giving each participant a pink set of gear, all the little things that would make it more appealing!
Q: Is there a specific age group that the camps are aimed at?
Yes, they’re aimed at 7 to 12 year olds as an introduction to soccer.
Q: When do the camps take place?
Over the Easter holidays and we also run programmes for clubs throughout the year to get new girls into the club.
Q: What’s been your proudest moment thus far?
For myself, it’s been managing the national team. Playing for them first and then managing them. And as for Soccer Sisters, it’s so rewarding to have so many girls now involved in the sport.
Q: Has Soccer Sisters achieved its goal thus far?
Oh, for sure. Our registered numbers have almost doubled since we started! It’s fantastic to see so many girls now interested in soccer.
To find out more information about the FAI Aviva Soccer Sisters programme click here.