Civic reception for Irish women’s hockey team to be held in Dublin

Sports body moves to clarify funding of World Cup campaign

 Minister for Sport Shane Ross has been urged to  re-examine the funding of Irish hockey in the wake of this week’s success. Photograph: Sandra Mailer/Inpho

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has been urged to re-examine the funding of Irish hockey in the wake of this week’s success. Photograph: Sandra Mailer/Inpho

 

A civic reception will be held in Dublin on Monday for the Irish women’s hockey team after their historic silver medal in the World Cup.

A special event hosted by Dublin’s Lord Mayor Nial Ring and Dublin City Council will be held on a stage outside City Hall on Dame Street at 3pm where members of the public will be able to show their support for the team.

Hockey Ireland said it would be a family-friendly, alcohol-free event. Dublin City Council has asked people to use public transport when travelling to and from the event. Traffic restrictions will be in place from 10am in the vicinity of Dame Street.

The team are due to touch down at Dublin Airport shortly before 1pm.

Praise has been pouring in for the squad from public figures North and South, including President Michael D Higgins who described it as a “momentous achievement” which “will encourage young women and men all around the island of Ireland to take up sport”.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross said “these women have set a serious benchmark for other Irish teams”, while DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted that the medal-winners were “inspiring a generation of young players”.

Ahead of the final, Hockey Ireland moved to clarify how the Irish women’s hockey squad is funded, saying it was not the case that the players lining out on Sunday had to pay €550 each to represent Ireland.

The sports body said for the past two years the players have not had to pay the levy.

Prior to 2016, a levy of €550 per player was applied, a cost that was covered by the squad in 2015 and 2016 by running fundraisers.

Sport Ireland chief executive John Tracey confirmed that the team played no levies and had not done so since the Rio Olympics qualification campaign.

“We got the funding up to a level where that didn’t happen anymore to ensure that those athletes didn’t have to go out raising funds,” he said.

Mr Tracey said Sporting Ireland provided expense money for the players of €45,000 spread over a squad of 40 women.

He said Irish hockey had received €520,000 from the high performance unit this year, an additional €60,000 for both the men and women’s World Cup campaigns and €45,000 from Sport Ireland’s carding programme. They also got €220,000 in co-funding from private sponsors.

“We would love to be giving them more, but we are limited in terms of our own budget,” he told RTÉ’s This Week programme. “Our budget is about €10 million in terms of high-performance sport.”

Mr Tracey said the Government plans to double sports funding over the next 10 years from €110 million to €220 million. “That is the level of funding we need to compete at this level. Clearly we need investment very quickly in terms of high-performance sport with Tokyo [2020 Olympics] coming up,” he said.

There has been criticism from various quarters this week of the level of financial support Hockey Ireland has received in recent years.