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Coaches come together to encourage girls to give sport a try


Ulster’s Eliza Downey

Ulster’s Eliza Downey

Ulster’s Eliza Downey

There should be more discussions between coaches across sports to help each other out, according to Ulster Rugby's female rugby officer Neal Johnston.

Johnston will be part of an online panel tomorrow night (7pm) hosted by Electric Ireland discussing the differences between coaching in men's and women's sport which will see five speakers from four different sports come together to give their perspectives.

The night will begin with a keynote speech from Northern Ireland women's football manager Kenny Shiels, before Johnston is part of the panel alongside Tom Causer, club and workforce manager at Netball NI, Gail Redmond, Glentoran Women's manager and IFA Foundation's women's domestic manager and 18-time All-Ireland winner Briege Corkery of Cork, who played both camogie and football.

"It's a great opportunity for coaches who are thinking about getting into the women's and girls' game to get involved," says Johnston.

"There's definitely a difference between the men's and women's game that I've learned over the years. Hopefully we can give people a bit of an insight and teach them some of the things that I've learned from down the years."

And Johnston believes coaches working together across sports can only be beneficial, particularly during the pandemic.

Recently, Netball NI and Basketball NI announced a collaboration to help both sports thrive once Covid-19 has subsided and Johnston is hoping that rugby can be a sport that learns from others too.

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"I don't think (coaches talking across sports) is done enough, to be honest. You can learn a massive amount," he adds.

"For example, the experience Kenny brings is huge. And one of the things we've found is that a lot of girls transfer to rugby from other sports, so having an insight from other sports is invaluable."

Eliza Downey, a dual athlete herself having played rugby for Ireland and GAA for Down, agrees, pointing to her own experiences as proof that the skills do compliment each sport.

"Women and girls' sport, in general across any sport you're talking about, there are transferable skills across all of them," she says. "For me, Gaelic football opened up doorways into this. But we would appeal to any girl who hasn't found their place in sport, to try any sport, not just rugby. We want to give them an alternative."

To join in the panel, visit www.gamechangersni.com at 7pm tomorrow night.

Belfast Telegraph

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