Ailbhe Clancy and Tara McLaughlin celebrate Glencar Manorhamilton's victory in the 2020 Connacht LGFA Intermediate Club Final Picture: Willie Donnellan
Leitrim might not have the All-Ireland Senior titles that Dublin or Cork Ladies have but there is no doubt that the Green & Gold have and continue to be one of the leading lights in the development of Ladies football in the country.
From winning the first ever All-Ireland Junior title in 1988 to players like Maeve & Deirdre Quinn, Sarah McLoughlin and so many others being honoured with All Stars right up to the present day success of Glencar Manorhamilton in lifting the 2020 Connacht Intermediate Club title, Ladies football in Leitrim is an integral part of the sporting and social fabric of the county.
The Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) provides a social outlet and a healthy activity for thousands of people around the world. Starting with club football for primary school girls, an individual can keep playing the sport for as long as she wants, especially with the Gaelic4Mothers&Others initiative for those adults interested in recreational or non-competitive participation.
The LGFA strives to be a support system for all members, from an eight year old girl kicking her first ball in her local club to an elite athlete scoring her first point in Croke Park.
The LGFA have game structures from Go Games (non-competitive up to U12) through to adult championships and have also pioneered a number of initiatives to help clubs to increase participation numbers.
Gaelic4Girls is an eightweek programme incorporating coaching sessions with fun non-competitive blitzes aimed at increasing participation in Ladies Gaelic Football. The club based programme targets girls aged between 8-12 years who are not currently registered with a LGFA club. In essence, this is a tool to attract new players.
The Leitrim Gaels U12 team - the club are looking to develop in the years ahead
Gaelic4Teens is a coach education based initiative, incorporating fun coaching sessions and a National Festival Day, aimed at increasing the retention rate of teenage girls aged 13-17 years in clubs. The programme educates coaches on the needs of teenage girls and what they can put in place to retain them in their club.
Clubs like Melvin Gaels and Fenagh St Caillin's have led the way with the Gaelic 4 Mothers & Others initiative in Leitrim, an innovative way to introduce mothers and other women to playing Ladies Gaelic Football. Mothers often drop their kids to training and call back to collect them, but the LGFA wanted to change that.
The G4M&O initiative sees women playing Ladies Gaelic Football in a fun, non-competitive and social environment. The programme provides an opportunity for women to get their recommended weekly exercise in a fun way while meeting other mothers in the area.
The club nursery is the foundation of the juvenile section of clubs. There are numerous activities available throughout the county for children to participate in so it is important to give girls the opportunity to participate in Ladies Gaelic football from an early age. The main aim of a nursery is to introduce children aged 4 – 8 years of age to Gaelic Football in a fun, safe and relaxed environment. The ethos of the nursery is ‘to learn skills while having fun.’
The BUA programme is a self-development initiative aimed at supporting young people in the association to develop leadership skills and qualities to benefit their community through expert led workshops and self-reflection, before participants put their enhanced leadership skills into action through a club action project. Avenues for participation in a club need to be open to players and non-players and skills off the pitch can sustain a successful future for the club.
Learn to Lead
The LGFA Leadership Programme, Learn to Lead, was devised to develop the next generation of female leaders within Ladies Gaelic Football. The participation of these women in LGFA will ensure the Association has a growth mindset and strives to be innovative and develop further in future years.
These initiatives, amongst others, create a pathway for participation into LGFA for existing and potential members. They build on core competition structures as well as the official Coach and Referee Education programme. There is an avenue for participation as a player, coach, administrator or match official.
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