by Natasha Kelly

This is the second part of our Women in Sport series celebrating International Women’s Day. (Read part one here)

Here, key women in the Donegal Athletics circuit reveal how they find joy in sport, and why they hope to inspire more women to start their own journey.

Name: Teresa McDaid
Club: Letterkenny AC
Role: Coach/Mentor

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
I am pleased to see the impact that Beyond 20 x 20 initiative has created. It’s aims to support, assist, facilitate and encourage women into coaching and management roles is a fantastic resource. I would have appreciated this network and level of support on my journey when I started out as a coach and team manager. There are countless female development programmes being run by National Governing Bodies and local Sports Partnerships. This is not only impressive, but it really excites me to look ahead to our emerging women in what were traditionally male dominated roles.
Come on the Girls!!

Name: Sharon Gallen
Club: Lifford Strabane A.C.
Role: Former athlete/coach/parent
Events :  Multi events /High Jump

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
I believe as former athlete, now coach and mum Athletics has given me opportunities to compete at highest level, travel and expand personally in many ways by life experiences, discipline and confidence

I believe females can excel in our sport no matter what, there are loads of different events to suit different types of girls from running to jumps and throws.

I think women are becoming more prominent forces in world sport today , not alone on field as participants but as pundits, ie UK football league sideline reporters and presenters are seeing changes in that respect in last year.

Name: Nakita Burke
Age: 33
Club: Letterkenny AC

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
Being a women in sport has given me some of my most treasured memories and days out. I have met some of the most inspirational people along the way. I hope that we can continue with the 20X20  and that we all take that opportunity to get fit and lead healthier lifestyles. Having switched codes from soccer to athletics in recent years I’ve learned it’s never too late to find a new sport & give it a go!

Name: Helen Mc Cready
Age:  36 and Mum of 5, 2 daughters.
Club: Rosses AC
Favourite Event: Cross Country

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
My own Mum practised her sport with great commitment alongside being a mother, so I feel I had early experience of watching women in sports and obstacles that they have to overcome. This now allows me to train without the layers of ‘mum guilt’ that many mothers in sport feel for pursuing their own goals. I want to show women & girls that sport is a healthy & enjoyable habit.  There are gender inequalities in the support of women’s sport and I hope that with the previous 20X20 campaign this will kick off the rapport to heal some of these.

Name: Ann-Marie McGlynn
Age: 40
Club: Letterkenny AC
Favourite Event: Half Marathon & Marathon

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
Over the past few years the work by 20×20 aimed at promoting females in sport by boosting female participation rates & also increasing media coverage of women in sport, has been a massive boost to women in sport. As an Irish senior international athlete, I am delighted share my experience and advice and I hope to use my status in Irish sport to take part in actively promoting and planning to increase participation in our female teams/athletes and county/club competitions throughout Donegal.

As a mum of a daughter, I hope I inspire her & continue to inspire her, not just following in my foot steps in athletics but in sports as a whole. It’s really important she has the role models & inspirational individuals to look up to. With the help of this campaign it leads the way forward in terms of structures, pathways, opportunities to equality & opportunities for 50/50 in sport.

Name: Amanda McShane
Age: 43
Role: Juvenile Coach and Fit for Life Athlete with Tír Chonaill AC
Favourite Event: Marathon

What does being a woman in sport mean to me:
As a juvenile coach with Tír Chonaill AC, I strive at every coaching session to be the best that I can be. I hope my passion for coaching will influence, motivate and inspire some of the young girls to set out on their own coaching journey some day.

As a runner, and a busy working Mum of three young children, I hope to encourage women similar to myself in my own community to realise that running is not just for “elites” and that Mammies too can run marathons !!!
 Personally, running has given me great enjoyment, increased confidence and that all important headspace on the days that I needed it most!

Name: Adrienne Gallen
(Current Donegal Athletics Sports Star)
Club: Lifford Strabane A.C     
Age: 16 years old
Events;  Hammer,shot,discus

Lifford Strabane AC’s Adrienne Gallen was voted Donegal Junior Female Athlete of the Year for 2020

What does being a women in sport mean to me:
My interest in athletics came from my mum who was also an athlete and is now a coach and even as a toddler I always found myself trackside

At first I tried all the running and jumping events which I didn’t really like but then I found enjoyment in throws events as I as it came more naturally to me.

My favourite event is Hammer as it is quite uncommon for a lot of females athletes locally and nationally to participate in, maybe for the reason that its portrayed as an event that is all about “brute strength” when in fact there is so much more involved technically.

Sport has given me so many opportunities like travelling to places I’d never thought I’d go and making new friends. Overall sport plays a big part in my life and now more than ever it is important that we all keep active and healthy both physically and mentally.

Read the first part of this series to hear from Natasha Kelly and her drive to increase promotion and supports for their female athletes: