Dublin, 20th May 2019: Park Developments, one of Ireland’s leading property development groups has announced investment in Irish Women’s Hockey over the next four years. Recently appointed Irish Women’s Head Coach Sean Dancer along with World Cup medallists Anna O’Flanagan, Roisin Upton and goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran were at Park Developments’ landmark office development, The Reflector Building to announce the investment that will be ring fenced for direct player support.
The Park Developments Irish Women’s Hockey Bursary will see an initial group of 23 players supported between now and the conclusion of the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in December. The funding is guaranteed for four years and will supplement support provided to the Irish Women’s Hockey Team by Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland.
Silver medallists at the 2018 World Cup last summer, the Irish Women’s Hockey Team’s first attempt at qualification gets underway on 8th June at an FIH Series Tournament in Banbridge. Ireland must reach the final of the Banbridge tournament to earn a place at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament later this year.
Speaking at the announcement Sales & Marketing Manager at Park Developments, Jilly Cotter said: “As a property development business, we aim to enrich the lives of future generations. Like so many, we at Park Developments were inspired by the performance of the Irish Women’s team at the World Cup last summer. We wanted to support the on-going development of the team and look to do so in an innovative way that could begin the process of transforming the supports available to Irish Women hockey players. We are delighted that the Park Developments Irish Women’s Hockey Bursary Scheme is now a reality and hope it will have a positive impact on the current squad on their journey to Olympic qualification.”
Irish Women’s Head Coach, Sean Dancer said “The Park Developments Irish Player Bursary Scheme is a very welcome start to my tenure as Irish Women’s Head Coach and its importance to the development of our programme cannot be underestimated. We go into camp on Thursday this week to prepare for the FIH Series in Banbridge, the beginning of an intensive six-month training and competition schedule as we try to build on the incredible performance last summer and do what no Irish women’s team has done before and secure Olympic qualification. Some of the other team’s looking to secure Olympic qualification have full time programmes. The Park Developments Player Bursary Scheme will go some way to providing Ireland’s top hockey players with some additional financial support given the likely impact on their work commitments representing their country on the world stage will have.”
World Cup Medallist Anna O’Flanagan said: “Last summer’s World Cup was definitely the highlight of my playing career to date. Having played for Ireland on 180 occasions, it was the culmination of years of training and competitive experience balanced with study, professional qualification and full-time employment. The reality is that competing with the world’s best requires a level of commitment that makes full time employment virtually impossible. The Park Developments Player Bursary is therefore a very welcome support in addition to the funding Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland have provided over the years to us as a team and will facilitate more training time that is a necessity to give ourselves the best chance of securing our goal of qualifying for and competing at the Olympic Games.”