New statistics released today show a large imbalance of interest in male and female sport events in Ireland. 

Just one in three (36%) Irish adults have attended or watched a women’s sports event in the past year, compared to 75% of people attending major men’s events.

In comparison with the UK, Ireland’s support of female sports isn’t so bad. The survey by Liberty Insurance found that Irish people are more than twice as likely to attend or watch a women’s sports event as their peers in the UK. Only 49% of UK adults watched or attended a major men’s sports event in the past year and just 17% watched or attended an equivalent female event.

Interestingly, more Irish men than women engage with female sport: 43% of Irish men have attended or watched a major women’s sports event in the last 12 months, versus 30% of females.

Why the imbalance of support?  A ‘general lack of interest’ is the most frequently cited reason for the low engagement in women’s sport. Other barriers to engagement in Ireland included a lack of knowledge (16%), lack of time (15%), insufficient buzz or excitement (12%), and not growing up with women’s sport (16%).

These stats were found to shine a light on the challenges faced by women in sport in Ireland ahead of a #SupportHerSport event in Dublin today.

The survey was undertaken by Liberty Insurance ahead of the launch of ‘Women in Sport, The Next Chapter’ in Croke Park, featuring experts from the world of elite sport, media and business to debate and discuss some of the key challenges facing women’s sport and female athletes.

RTÉ broadcaster Joanne Cantwell will host a panel discussion featuring author of ‘Eat Sweat Play’, Anna Kessel MBE; Europe’s first professional female referee Joy Neville; former Irish rugby international and media pundit Fiona Coghlan; and Camogie All-Star Mags D’Arcy.

Commenting ahead of the event, Deirdre Ashe, Director of Customer & Markets, Liberty Insurance, said:

“We’re delighted to be sharing these results today and shining a light on the progress being made in the area of women in sport in Ireland. 2017 represented an important year for women’s sport and the success of Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Joy Neville being awarded World Rugby referee of the year and record-breaking attendances at the All Ireland Ladies Football Final proved to be particular highlights.

“However, our research suggests more needs to be done to generate a broader awareness of women’s sport, its heroes, rivalries, and narratives.  This has to start at an early age.  If children are not exposed to female sport, they are highly unlikely to engage with it as adults.

“Since undertaking our sponsorship of the Camogie Championships, subsequently the inaugural Camogie All Stars Tour, and through to our ambassador programme which was launched last year, our ambition has always been to raise the profile and recognition of women in sport.

“It is important to maintain this momentum. We all have a duty to do more to promote female sport in the short and long term. The conversation on women’s sport has really gained traction in the past five years. The next challenge is to progress this conversation in a meaningful way and to identify the next steps needed to drive continued female participation in sport and to give its heroes the platform they deserve.”

If you’d like to follow updates from the event today, check out @LibertyIRL