Elite sports is inspiring the next generation of footballers, according to Vera Pauw.
The Irish women’s national football manager was speaking at a celebration to mark the selling of one million tickets at the Australia and New Zealand Women’s World Cup.
The two embassies invited budding football players from the Dublin and District Schoolgirls' League to participate in a World Cup Blitz. Some 750 young girls took part in matches on June 11th.
“This is what it’s all about, this is why we always show up at these events,” Ms Pauw told Newstalk reporter Henry McKean on Newstalk Breakfast.
“The only reason we have elite sports is to inspire the next generation and it’s my biggest joy and pleasure to visit.
“This is where my heart is really beating and gives me energy.”
Ms Pauw said the Irish women’s football team is gearing up for an exciting time at the Women’s World Cup next month.
“We have a few issues in the team like any sports,” she said. “But that’s what it’s all about.”
As the excitement over the Woman’s World Cup begins to grow @HenryMcKean heads to the @DDSL_Official Girls World Cup Blitz to meet @verapauw and some budding stars of the future. @NTBreakfast #COYGIG #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/uVOif9nJcj
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) June 12, 2023
Bohemians F.C. player Sarah Rowe also attended the mini-blitz and said she has seen the rise of women’s sports before her own eyes.
“Female sport is one of those things where it feels like an absolute privilege to grow up in an era of such change for women's sport,” she said. “And it’s happening so rapidly.”
Ms Rowe said the Irish women’s team’s World Cup bid has likely inspired many of the young girls at the Blitz.
“I think with the Women’s Cup, it’s a particularly special time for women in sport and you see so much opportunity,” she said.
“You feel the buildup for the Irish players, that sense of pride that everyone has and all that they've achieved.”
'So good for the future'
New Zealand Ambassador Trevor Mallard said the World Cup Blitz is “so good for the future” of women’s sports.
“It’s absolutely fantastic the way women’s sports has grown, and girl’s sport has grown at an exponential rate,” he said.
Australian Ambassador Gary Gray agreed and said the World Cup will also make a huge difference in getting young girls engaged in sport.
“Around the world, a game will be seen and watched and inspire on every country on the planet,” he said.