One hundred and fifty girls from nine Donegal Post-primary schools came together in Letterkenny to celebrate their participation in the unique Girls Active programme and Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup this summer.

Girls from St. Catherine’s VS, Killybegs; Abbey VS, Donegal Town; Magh Ene, Bundoran; Finn Valley College, Stranorlar;  St. Columba’s College, Stranorlar, Errigal College, Letterkenny; Mulroy College, Milford, Crana College, Buncrana and Gairmscoil Chu Uladh, Ballinamore all attended on the day. Earlier this year the Link Teachers had attended a training session with Neal Johnston, Female Rugby Officer, IRFU (Ulster Branch).

Girls Active is a physical activity programme delivered in post primary schools and Youthreach centres with a focus on creating more supportive environments for teenage girls to be more physically active.  

In addition to the weekly activities that girls engage in at their schools/Youthreach centres, they are invited to attend and participate in the Annual Activity Fest as a celebration event.  

Nora Stapleton and Laura Feely, Ireland Womens Rugby team with Aine Friel and Nicola Irwin, Finn Valley College Stranorlar at the Aura Leisure Centre, Letterkenny with the Womens Rugby World Cup.

This year the Girls Active Activity Fest celebrated the run up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup and the fact that Ireland are hosting this competition in Dublin and Belfast later in August.  

Irish Internationals and Donegal women, Nora Stapleton and Laura Feely also attended the event and brought along the actual trophy for the World Cup. Nora brings a lot of experience to the Ireland squad where she plays out-half.

Nora recently picked up the player-of-the-match award at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, as the Ireland Women’s team notched up their fourth win of the Women’s Six Nations. She won the Grand Slam in 2013 and picked up her second Six Nations medal in 2015.

Nora also wore the number 10 jersey when Ireland defeated the All Blacks at the 2014 World Cup. Before taking up rugby. Nora played GAA with Donegal and won the All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship with them in 2010.

Nora works as Women’s Rugby Development Executive with the IRFU and has played a key role in promoting the women’s game in Ireland.

Laura Feely who recently made her debut for the Irish International squad also attended the Girls Active Fest. “I remember Girls Active in school and it is great to see that Donegal schools are still offering this programme to encourage girls to be active. Hopefully today will inspire many of the girls to continue to play at school and perhaps even join a local rugby club.!”

The Irish internationals encouraged the girls to attend a match in the summer and follow Ireland’s progress on television.

At the Activity Fest the girls met and played Tag rugby with students from other schools. Kay Smyth, Ambassador for the World Cup explained the role she will play looking after the group that Ireland is in together with teams from Japan, Australia and France.

Kay is on tour with the Trophy bringing it to clubs and schools. She was especially pleased to attend Girls Active that has introduced the game to a whole new set of Teen Girls and to schools that will now offer this as a sport to girls. Who knows, some of the Girls Active participants may follow in the boots of Laura and Nora and one day don an Irish shirt.

Girls Active is supported by the Donegal Sports Partnership and Health Promotion & Improvement, HSE. This collaboration promotes the goals of Healthy Ireland through programmes such as Girls Active contributes and contributes significantly to the National Physical Activity Plan.