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Camogie looking to the future by continuing to expand player and supporter bases

Ard Stiúrthóir an Cumann Camógaíochta, Joan O’Flynn, has set out plans to expand Camogie’s player and supporter bases. The plans are contained in her report to the Camogie Association’s Annual Congress which will be taking place this weekend (Friday, 27 to Saturday, 28 March) in Croke Park.
The Ard Stiúrthóir's Report 2014 can be downloaded here
The Association's 2014 Committee Reports can be downloaded here
Joan O’Flynn said that increasing the number of people who regularly attend Camogie games remains a major challenge for the Association.
“In 2014 the Camogie Association commissioned market research on what actual and prospective fans think of Camogie and what motivates them or stops them from attending games. The entertainment, skill level, enjoyment and social aspects of Camogie were recurring themes in the research findings with the overwhelming majority admiring the skill of the games.”
Some of the key findings included:
•      94% of those surveyed had a high awareness of the All-Ireland Championship across Camogie and hurling supporters;
•      Less than half of those who were aware of the All-Ireland series had previously attended an inter-county Camogie championship game;
•      Personal relationships with individuals involved in a team are a primary driver of attendance at games for just over two-thirds of respondents, while support for their county was the second strongest reason.
Joan O’Flynn said that convenience of fixtures, access to matches and lack of ‘hype’ were reported as the biggest barriers to attendance at inter-county games for Camogie club and inter-county hurling supporters. Ms O’Flynn believes that the point about convenience of fixtures is very telling.
“From time to time, availability of playing grounds is harder to secure until shortly before a fixture. This severely impedes the capacity to promote the fixture concerned and can impact negatively on pre-match preparation also. Indeed, sometimes it is a challenge to secure grounds of county standard for high profile games including national finals and semi-finals.”
Despite these difficulties, Joan O’Flynn said that the market research shows that the pool of prospective Camogie supporters is significant:
•      81% of those surveyed showed a willingness to attend inter-county Camogie championship games in the future – including 71% of current inter-county hurling supporters;
•      Over a third of inter-county supporters come from Camogie’s club base so there is a clear opportunity to grow this further.
Another challenge highlighted by the Camogie Association’s Director General is that of expanding into certain urban areas and amongst teenagers.
“The majority of the national population is urban-based and there are several urban areas throughout the country that warrant a more intensive Camogie development focus. For example, there is a clear trend where Dublin and the Leinster counties adjacent to the M50 have experienced significant population growth and have the greatest population density.
“Based on data analysis of Fingal, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, it emerges that Camogie is ‘under-reaching’ to teenagers in these areas. Only 5% of young girls aged 13-17 in these catchments are registered Camogie members. Looking to Ulster, of the 26 GAA clubs in Belfast, just four have Camogie. There is only one Camogie club in the entire Derry city catchment.”
Joan O’Flynn envisages the Camogie Association adopting a more intensive and targeted initiative in these urban areas with a focus on recruitment of players and retention of teenage players involving:
•      Pre-development work;
•      Identifying local champions;
•      Targeted support from full-time staff and volunteer development officers;
•      Outreach in schools and GAA clubs;
•      Parental involvement and upskilling of adults new to Camogie;
•      Innovative coaching and development methods.

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