Trailblazing Cheryl Lamont feels ‘privileged’ to assume association’s reins
Highly respected administrator Cheryl Lamont CBE has created history by being elected the first lady President of a football Association in Northern Ireland.
Ms Lamont, a towering figure in the women’s game, was nominated and accepted to be the Co Antrim and District Football Association’s new supremo at a Council meeting last night.
She succeeds Jim Jess from the Belfast and District League, whom she’d been vice-President to since 2018. Ms Lamont will hold the position for two years.
Ms Lamont told the Belfast Telegraph: “I’m very pleased and feel privileged to be the first woman President in the County Antrim football district’s history dating back to 1888 and indeed Northern Ireland football as a whole, so new ground.
“With 550 teams, in terms of membership, we are the biggest divisional association in Northern Ireland and therefore I am very honoured to have been elected.
“I will, along with my the office bearers of this Association, look to lead and work for the County Antrim FA as best we can. These are challenging times with Covid but we will do our best and work for every member team and player in our association.”
A proud Irish FA President David Martin conceded: “It’s an historic moment for the game in Northern Ireland. Cheryl has given over 30 years service to the game here in a voluntary capacity and I’m delighted she has been elected President of the County Antrim Football Association.”
Having played and then managed Glentoran, where she became Northern Ireland’s most successful women’s coach, Ms Lamont first came to prominence on a football committee in 2013 when she was involved in the Co Antrim’s Women’s Cup, followed by the inaugural Co Antrim Challenge Cup.
In 2014 Ms Lamont, a local government official, was elected on to the Irish FA’s Council.
Following a successful nomination, Ms Lamont was last year appointed to Uefa’s Women’s Football Committee.
The Belfast woman has also been honoured by the Queen for her work outside football and received a CBE.
Ms Lamont admits: “I have been involved in football from a very early age and I’ve easily put 35 to 40 years of effort into football, particularly women’s football.
“I’ve helped develop junior teams for girls and I was also very privileged to complete my A Licence as a coach.
“I’ve been a coach at Uefa’s Under-19 competitions and I coached alongside people like Ian Stewart, Seamus Heath and Alfie Wylie, male colleagues who have a huge amount of knowledge and experience in the game and I have to say I learnt so much from them.
“Football is not about male or female, if you have a love and desire to see football grow and are really committed to doing that, there are lots of people out there who are willing to help and share their knowledge and their enjoyment of the game.”
During her time in office, Ms Lamont hopes to inspire girls and give them the opportunity to play the game at a competitive level — despite restrictive Covid-19 regulations.
She states: “I’m very mindful of the women’s game having a much shorter season this year, some cup competitions have been cut and we need to make sure we provide an opportunity for women and girls to play.
“I’m very much associated with Glentoran Belfast United as we were known and we were very successful alongside Crusaders. We were the two main teams in women’s football for almost a decade and have shared 13 titles between us. From that, the likes of Linfield have been champions for the last three or four years and there is now great competition in the league.
“Also, last week Kenny Shiels’ senior international team had a fantastic 6-0 win in the Faroe Islands and a 6-0 win for any Northern Ireland team is great and there is a lot of support from the Irish FA and we are progressing.”