20x20 is a progressive step into making sports coverage 50:50.

Picture this: you’re an athlete, you train hard, sometimes eight times a week. You eat right, never miss a training session and you never lose sight of the end goal - the All Ireland Final. You should get recognised, right? 

According to a recent study by Investec, only 3% of sport’s print coverage in Ireland is dedicated to women’s sport and less than 12% of television coverage is estimated to be dedicated to women’s sport. 

 

The 20x20 campaign is a new movement which aims to increase media coverage of women’s sport by 20%, increase female participation at all levels of sport by 20%, and increase audience attendance by 20% - All by 2020. The all-inclusive campaign, primarily sponsored by Investec, will also be awarding €1,000 to one broadcast, print or online journalist every month between February and November of 2019 for media coverage of women in sport. The judging panel for the awards include sports writer Anna Kessel, ex-rugby star Gordon D’Arcy, the Federation’s Mary O’Connor, Investec’s CEO Michael Cullen and 20x20 Ambassador Sarah Colgan. 

 

Investec’s stats coincide with the 57% interest of “Irish people wanting to see equal visibility in the media for female and male sporting role models” and “63% of people would like to see Ireland’s sports-women become national heroes in the same way as our sportsmen”.  

 

20x20 is a progressive step into making sports coverage 50:50. The movement currently has five main ambassadors to get the ball rolling but actively encourages the general public to get involved. One of the five ambassadors is multi-talented athlete and past DCU student, Sarah Rowe. 

 

In addition to the increased interest and investment from the 20x20 campaign, Sport Ireland announced in early February that a grand total of €32 million would be invested into “National Governing Bodies for Sport, direct athlete support and the Local Sports Partnership Network for 2019”; a significant rise of €11.3 million compared to 2018. 

 

One of many athletes that will benefit from the funding is international canoeist and bronze medallist in the Canoe Sprint World Championships, Jenny Egan who told RTE that the €45,000 increase in NGB funding will benefit minority sporting groups greatly and aid better sports programmes. Egan is also an advocate for the 20x20 campaign and believes that one of the main issues with keeping girls in sport is the “old school mentality” of encouraging boys into sport rather than girls. 

“Please encourage your daughters to do sport, don’t try to put them off or don’t think it’s not as important for them to do sport”, Egan advised on the DCU student podcast ‘In Conversation With’. 

 

With increased funding, visibility and interest from the 20x20 campaign and Sport Ireland investment, 2019 is set to be the year of major development in women’s sport and it is high-time that dedicated and talented athletes receive the recognition they deserve which will undoubtedly encourage young girls to play sports, because “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”.