SINCE the Covid 19 Pandemic, there has been a sharp decline in participation in women’s soccer in Carlow. Last season saw just four sides competing in the league whilst this side whilst this season, there was no league with some clubs from last season electing to play in the Kilkenny League. However, in a year where interest in women’s football is at an all time high with a World Cup this summer, Vice Chairman of the Carlow League Bernard Mullen has organised a brand new six team seven a side tournament featuring Crettyard, Hanover, Ballymurphy, Nurney Villa and St. Pat’s that begins tonight in The Meadows in Graiguecullen. He says that there has been a drop off in participation in women’s soccer since the pandemic and that they have to start from scratch as they build their way back up to a full league next season.
“It’s been on the decline since Covid and trying to get it back up and running has been extremely difficult. This is the first attempt and even to get six teams is an achievement, albeit not one to write home about but an achievement nonetheless. It’s a start that we can build on for next year. The Kilkenny League was starting up at the start of the year and a few of our teams wanted to go join, then they didn’t go and they just didn’t make up their mind. And then the teams we did have didn’t have enough players so we had to go back to the drawing board. With girls they have much more going on, they’re away studying and working and if it’s not there from the getgo they’ll go do other things. You have to be on top of it from the start or you’ll lose them.”
He added that it’s something they’ve done before and that it’s going to be an intense ten week tournament with plenty to play for.
“We always wanted to get it back in some way. And we’re going back to how we started the league, a seven a side tournament, that’s how it started and we’re hoping to grow it from there. It’s to get them ready for a full tournament next year and hopefully we can get a few of the other sides back too. It’s not what we wanted but it’s better than no football, it’s a good first step. It’s 7 a side and we’re going to create seven rounds of matches, the first six rounds are going to be down in St. Pat’s under lights just to allow for the clocks to change later on and pitches to recover. After that, there will be one round in each of the four venues, a round in Hanover, a round in Crettyard, a round in Ballymurphy and a round in Nurney. The two top teams will then play for the Champions Cup, the Carlow Cup and the other four teams will play off in a divisional cup semi-final so they’ll have plenty to play for. We don’t know what it will look like just yet. We’re playing on a shorter pitch with smaller goals to keep it competitive. It’ll be half an hour a side. Fingers crossed all goes well and there’s a buy in.”
By Harry Shorthose