As part of the 50-year anniversary celebrations of the Ireland Women’s National Team, the Football Association of Ireland has committed to honour all players who have represented the nation at senior women’s level.
In order to recognise the contributions of so many women involved with the National Team over the last five decades, every player who featured for the senior team in an official game will receive a one-off commemorative cap that will feature a unique 50-Year crest.
The awarding of a cap to an international player dates back to the 1870s and remains a symbolic gesture, as well as a prized keepsake. This initiative will ensure that all players who played for Ireland since 1973 will be recognised with a one-off cap that will represent their involvement with the team.
Another special event to mark the 50-year anniversary of the WNT will see a reunion of the first ever team, who beat Wales 3-2 on May 13, 1973, and the first team to play a home game, where Ireland secured a 4-1 win over Northern Ireland on June 30, 1973 in Dublin.
The players involved in both games will be invited to an event in early May and will also be special guests in Tallaght Stadium on July 6 when the current Ireland team take on France in their send-off game before departing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
To launch this initiative, a photocall was held in Merrion Square with five players who represented Ireland in different decades: Linda Gorman, Jackie McCarthy-O’Brien, Sue Hayden, Olivia O’Toole and Ellen Molloy.
FAI CEO Jonathan Hill said: “This is obviously a very special year for women and girls’ football with the World Cup Finals ahead of us. We have also committed to a range of a number key initiatives across the year, including introducing professional contracts to the League of Ireland Women’s Premier Division, new teams being added to our League of Ireland Academy, more funding and resources made available to Grassroots, a record number of female coaches achieving UEFA qualifications, a Volunteer campaign ton show the many roles that women can take on within grassroots football and of course Eileen Gleeson taking over as Head of Women and Girls’ Football.
“Developing the full potential of football for women and girls is a key pillar in the 2022-2025 FAI Strategy and it is vital that we capitalise on the many positive initiatives happening this year to achieve our objectives and create a better footballing structure for every woman and girl. Part of that is involving those who have helped to create the history of our Women’s National Team for the past 50 years.”
Ireland WNT Manager Vera Pauw said: “It is so important to show appreciation to those who went before us and helped to drive women’s football forward. I’m grateful to the work that managers like Noel King, Sue Ronan and Colin Bell did before me and I know that our team acknowledges the impact that former players had on raising standards for them.
“We try to make time for the women who have helped to shape what women’s football is now in Ireland and it is brilliant to see people like Paula Gorham, Linda Gorman, Olivia O’Toole, Emma Byrne and many others at our games, at promotional events and continuing to be fantastic ambassadors for our team and women’s football as a whole. I am proud that I have been asked to help to take this next step in honouring these amazing women – we stand on their shoulders. I want to thank them for what they have done for the game during a time when they did not get the kind of visibility that they deserved.”
FAI Head of Women and Girls’ Football Eileen Gleeson said: “In order to shape a brighter future for women and girls’ football in Ireland, we must embrace the past and recognise those who laid important foundations for us to build on. So it is fantastic to be able to honour every woman who represented Ireland in an official game at senior level with a special cap that will mean so much to them and their families.
“We are working hard in the FAI to make sure that 2023 leaves a sustainable legacy for women and girls’ football, at all levels, and we’re sure that the current Women’s National Team will do the country proud at the World Cup. But it’s crucial that everyone feels part of it, especially the amazing women who were the original trailblazers in our game.”
Any player who represented the Ireland Women’s National Team at senior level in an official game since 1973 can contact the FAI with their details by emailing WNT@fai.ie