OPINION: "I'm not mad with Ladyball, just disappointed"
Newstalk's Oisin Langan shares his views on the campaign14:03 Saturday 16 January 2016, 14:03 16 Jan 2016
I've been thinking about it for many hours yet nothing I've seen or read has made me change my mind about the wide ball that was the Ladyball concept and reveal.
The intent was genuine from the ladies football side, however, the idea that this would create respect for women's sport was ill judged. Those who already cared about women's sport already respected the athletes and didn't need a crass and immature campaign to inform their opinions.
From the off it was obvious Ladyball was not all it seemed and quickly suspicions grew that it was part of a clever charity campaign. Due to a Canadian campaign of the same name and the pink colour most thought it was campaign for ovarian cancer support, obviously a noble and worthy cause. The reveal was more disappointing than Bobby Ewing walking out of the shower, The Sopranos fading to black, finding out how the mother was met and the Matrix sequels combined. The frustration is that the big budget spent on this would have been much better spent on hiring coaches, buying equipment or even advertising their own games at peak times. Even if those who never attended were encouraged to go to games by this campaign, the fact is the league doesn't start until next month, so it's an opportunity missed.
As an organisation Ladies football gets a lot of things right, including their championship structures, excellent regular live coverage on TG4 and a dedicated media service that provides content to online and print media. There's also the clever branding of an empty Hill 16 with flags and other such decorations on All-Ireland final day giving the stadium a far less hollow feel. Like any sporting organisation their key resources are the players, mentors, officials and volunteers who have been patronised by a pointless exercise and waste of valuable resources.
In the 80's basketball became massively popular not because people were told to respect it or because they were duped by a marketing stunt . They watched and flocked to it because it became a sport we wanted to see through a mix of word of mouth popularity and TV coverage.
Rugby and cricket's stellar growth went hand in hand with tv coverage, while gyms filled up when Katie Taylor won gold in London. Those sports have an international element that GAA can't match but they also don't have a ready made set up in every parish. One of the reasons they succeeded is because the stars were among us . Unlike the international element thats something ladies football can do better than any other sport. Next time, take the budget spent on Ladyball which was a silly stunt that won't have any long term positive or tangible benefit, and use it to set up new clubs or support ready made heroes like Briege Corkerry, Valerie Mulcahy Cora Staunton, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh or Sinead Goldrick. Get those athletes out there and spread the word amongst the players of the future by coaching and mentoring, something they all do anyway but why not reward them for their endeavours.
The LGFA deserves credit for once again securing a sponsor while Lidl deserve credit for being that sponsor. Hopefully after a questionable start, this partnership which has undoubted potential, will work. One can create sporting heroes while the other can create jobs!
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