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Minister Ó Ríordáin lauds the achievements of the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19 soccer team

Congratulating the Republic of Ireland Women's Under 19 team on their excellent performance in reaching the semi-finals of the 2014 UEFA European Women's U19 Championship tournament, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality said

"As with many other sports fans around the country, I have been following this team's progress at the UEFA Championships with great interest. They are wonderful ambassadors for Ireland and for women in sport.Their historic performance in this competition is a great credit to their talent and dedication, both individually and as a team, to the hard work of the coaching and support staff led by Dave Connell, and to their enthusiastic supporters.

I am delighted that these young women, who represent many clubs in different parts of the country, are raising the profile of women's football in Ireland and, indeed, of sport for women in general. I wish them well and I hope they continue to enjoy what is an amazing achievement."

Minister of State Ó Ríordáin also referred to the immense contribution that participation in physical exercise and sport makes to a healthy lifestyle. He said the benefits in ensuring the physical, mental and social well-being of women and girls were recognised in a specific objective of the National Women's Strategy 2007-2016, which aims to increase the number of women participating in sport and physical activity.

The Minister said that he hoped the example of the Irish team would encourage more young women to get involved in team sports, highlighting the opportunities being provided by programmes such as Soccer Sisters, Late Night Leagues and Street Leagues.

Notes for Editors

Promotion of Sport under the National Women’s Strategy

One of the key objectives of the National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016 is to increase the number of women participating in sport and physical activity in Ireland. The Strategy identified heart disease and cancers, particularly lung cancer, breast and cervical cancer, as presenting significant risks to the health of women in Ireland. The Strategy aims to address and lower these risks with a series of interventions including education and awareness-raising about health and prevention strategies, fitness, good diet, taking part in fitness and sports programmes and mass sports events.

The Irish Sports Monitor findings for 2013 indicate that female participation in sport has increased across all age groups, but declines with age - with the highest participation rate at 66.2 per cent among 16-19 year old girls and the lowest at 30.2 per cent among women aged 65 years and over. The gender gap for mass participation events, which was 60 percentage points in 2007, has narrowed to 21 percentage points in 2013. In particular, the adult sports participation rate has increased from 33 per cent to 47 per cent overall in the same period, with faster growth in women’s participation.