• 1 in 5 adults say the success of Ireland’s WNT has inspired them to play football or play soccer
  • 2 in 5 say they would encourage their children to play football in the future
  • Support for WNT has increased by 20% among men and women
  • 3 out of 5 adults are watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
  • 31% of adults believe the women’s national team can win the World Cup

As the Republic of Ireland women’s national team prepares for the biggest tournament of their career to date, new research from Sky Ireland has shown growing support for the team, inspiring more people in Ireland to get involved in football.

After a turbulent year that saw the first ever World Cup qualifier, support for our women’s soccer team has increased by 20% since November 2021, from 54% to 65%, with a strong increase in female supporters. Most importantly, Sky Ireland’s study found that 1 in 5 adults say the success of our women’s national team inspired them to play or take up football and a further 2 in 5 say they inspired their children to play would encourage.

The study comes as Sky Ireland launches its second year in existence “Sky WNT Fund” which is again awarding a €25,000 fund to support five women’s national team players with their academic studies and career development off the pitch.

At a Sky Ireland event today to mark International Women’s Day, Team Manager, Vera PawWNT player Aine O’Gorman And Saoirse Noonannewly appointed Head of Women’s and Girls’ Football at the FAI, Eileen Gleesonand FIFA assistant referee Michelle O’Neill, spoke about the growing support for women’s football in Ireland, the importance of World Cup qualifying and the importance of public relations in the continued growth of women’s football. The Minister of State for Sport, Thomas Byrne TD, attended the event and recognized the success of our women’s national team and their significant positive impact on the growth of women’s sport in Ireland. Also attending the event were former WNT internationals Linda Gorman, Olivia O’Toole, Paula Gorham, Breda Hanlon, Kay Ramsbottom and Jackie McCarthy-O’Brien.

Sky Ireland’s study, conducted by Empathy Research, also showed a significant increase in support for our women’s national team from both men and women. The number of people who watched a WNT game increased from 49% to 57%, with the most notable increase being among women aged 18-24.

Commenting on your research results, Orlaith Ryan, Sky Ireland’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“From the moment we came on board as the main partner of the women’s national team, our aim has always been to help the team highlight their achievements, inspire the next generation of players and help transform women’s football in Ireland to promote. It is so encouraging to see the support for this team growing and the number of people who would encourage their children to play football. These stats are a testament to the players and management who have achieved incredible results over the past 12 months.

“It was also very important to us that we give our WNT players opportunities to develop and grow through our partnership. That’s why I’m very happy to launch the Sky WNT Fund again this year. While 2023 is a big year for players on the pitch, the fund is all about supporting our WNT players off the pitch with their academic studies and careers outside and beyond football.”

He also spoke at today’s Sky event, Women’s national team manager Vera Pauw said:

“Sky continue to be a fantastic partner for the Republic of Ireland women’s team. The support they have shown to us and to women’s football in Ireland has been phenomenal. Launched last year, the Sky WNT Fund is as important to our players as it helps players plan and prepare for the future.”

Regarding the coming year and the first-ever World Cup of the WNT, Vera Pauw added: “I am very proud of this team and the work they did to secure the World Cup qualification. We know we have a difficult group, but we also have confidence in our preparation. We look forward to competing against the best teams in the world and we hope to make the country proud with our achievements.”

Recipients of the Sky WNT Fund 2022 and Women’s national team player Saoirse Noonan said:

“I am delighted to have been selected as one of five players to receive the Sky WNT Fund last year. It allowed me to focus on my own clothing brand “Freedom Official Clothing” and grow the business. As the company is based in Cork it can be difficult to manage when I’m in the UK. The fund – and some help from my family – allowed me to keep the business going without interfering with my playing career.”

The Sky WNT Fund is a €25,000 grant awarded to five WNT recipients in 2023. Any WNT player can apply for funding – registration is done by filling out a short form to understand what path is being pursued and how funding will help along the way.

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