“It’s so exciting to see how far women’s soccer has come in Ireland and I can only imagine what it will be like if we qualify for the World Cup”
Vera Pauw’s Girls in Green head into tonight’s World Cup qualifying play-off game against Scotland with the hopes of the nation on their shoulders.
With the momentum behind women’s soccer gathering at a rapid rate in recent years, qualifying for a first major tournament could light the blue touch paper on the sport in this country.
Now Murphy hopes a domestic league equipped to support that national team can be developed, in a bid to stop our best players heading to England to play in the lucrative Women’s Super League.
“It’s so exciting to see how far women’s soccer has come in Ireland and I can only imagine what it will be like if we qualify for the World Cup,” began Murphy, speaking to the Sunday World at an event to promote Energia’s sponsorship of Wexford Youths.
“It would be huge if we qualify for our first major tournament and would lift the whole country. To even get into a play-off is unbelievable so hopefully the girls can go to the next stage now.
“There is a buzz around the lead-up every game Ireland play now and that’s a real change from where we were a few years ago.
“They are selling out games at Tallaght Stadium, the media are right behind the team and giving them great coverage, so I hope we build on this now.
“It would be great to think that all this positive publicity attracts a few more sponsors into the women’s game and having a company like Energia backing us at Wexford Youth is so important.
“Money makes the world go round and it is what this women’s game needs to progress and we have seen that in recent years.
“It’s incredible in comparison to maybe 10 or 11 years ago when I look back at where the game in Ireland was then.
“Back them, we were hard pressed to have a t-shirt to play in and used to go out at the start of every year to fundraise to pay for the team.
“Now we can now focus on training and preseason, so sponsorship is incredibly important for us to build the game at all levels in Ireland.”
With Ireland’s national team players now paid the same amount as their male counterparts when they play for their country, the next aim is a drive to raise standards in Ireland’s Women’s National League.
With England’s top tier of the women’s game benefiting from a £30milllion sponsorship deal with Barclays Bank, Murphy is hoping funds can now be pumped into the game in Ireland to keep our best players in this country.
“The game in England is growing at a rapid pace now because the FA over there are pumping big money into it and the sponsors are getting on board,” she added.
“You look at what happened with England’s win at the European Championships last summer and it was amazing to see Wembley Stadium packed for that final.
“It was an amazing moment for the women’s game and that’s what we want in Ireland now.
“What we would love to have here is a professional league where the funding is there to pay the players a good wage and made sure they don’t have to go to England to earn a living.
“Since our Women’s National League was formed it’s kind of stopped and started and stood still for a while.
“In the last couple of years, it’s really making some strides and the women’s international team are getting some noise now which will reflect into the women’s national league.
“The trouble is, we are going to continue to lose all our best players to the English league if we don’t get a full-time professional league in Ireland.
“We need to see more people coming to our league matches as it is a great day out and kids can get close to the players, so hopefully that is where we are heading now.
“The first target here should be for our teams to go semi-pro as that would be a huge leap with players maybe having to work less and focus on improving the standards in our league.”
Kylie Murphy spoke to the Sunday World at an Energia event.