4 April 2017; Republic of Ireland Women's National Team captain Emma Byrne, centre, with team-mates, from left, Karen Duggan, Aine O'Gorman, Claire Shine, Niamh Fahey, Jetta Berril, Ruesha Littlejohn, Niamh Reid-Burke, Katie McCabe, Julianne Russell, Megan Campbell, Diane Caldwell, Stephanie Roche, and Louise Quinn following a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

All joking and catchy headlines aside this is just not good enough. Today, our Irish women’s soccer team held a press conference in what they said was a “last resort” to raise concerns about the support they are given from the FAI. In a collective statement they said…

We as players are proud to represent our country at senior international level. Many of us give up time away from work, family and friends for a chance to represent our country. Last year we gave up over 40 working days to train and prepare for international games. This level of commitment is unsustainable in the current framework. We currently receive no loss of earnings, no match fee or bonus for the time given to represent our country.

Over 60% of the current squad are non-professional, many careers outside the game are on hold and it is becoming financially unrealistic to continue under the current parameters. We are elite athletes and compete on the world stage yet our treatment is far from where we feel it should be. With increased investment into the team, and us as players, we feel we have a greater chance to qualify for tournaments on a regular basis and individually reach our full potential as international players.

Stephanie Roche, centre, of the Republic of Ireland Women's National Team speaks alongside team-mates, seated from left, captain Emma Byrne, Aine O'Gorman, and Ethel Buckley, left, SIPTU Services Division, during a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

According to the team, they are often asked to change into team tracksuits in the airport, and return them afterwards so the tracksuits can be used by the younger teams. They also have to take unpaid leave from their jobs to represent their country,  According to balls.ie, their demands are simple and you would think, basic and obvious..

  • Access to nutritionist, and individual strength and conditioning programmes
  • Gym membership from squad
  • Hotel accommodation to include at the very least working and reliable wi-fi
  • Apparel for travelling to be provided to the squad prior to meeting-up at the airport
  • More home-based training sessions
  • All non-professional players to receive loss of earnings documented from their employers
  • Goalkeeper coach to remain for campaign, not change from game to game.
  • Match fee for all international fixtures €300
  • Bonus for competitive fixtures €150 win, €75 draw
  • Qualification bonus to be agreed with team captain and player representatives at least four weeks prior to start of qualification campaign.

Stories like this are very damaging for the young girls that we want to encourage to stay in sport. While our boys are motivated by the love of the game, but also in no small part by dreams of underground garages full of sports cars and weekly pay cheques that are bigger than what most people earn in years, our girls are looking at the women who have achieved the dream of playing for their country but at their own expense, and with very little support. This is not good enough.

On the upside, what today’s press conference has proven is that these women are a united team, who work together and look after each other, and that they are not afraid to stand up for themselves. Literal squad goals.

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