Better the balance, better the world. Gender equality is a critical component to the foundation of Allianz. Currently, 50 % of staff employed are female, with many female managers throughout the company. However, making an impact on current culture starts from the bottom. Brian Kelly, Digital Distribution & Transformation Manager, is just one of many Allianz employees volunteering his free time towards making this very difference. As a girls’ football coach, Brian has a unique view on women’s sport and why it is so invaluable to girls as they grow up.
Brian is a member of the Templeogue Synge Street GFC and has been involved as a coach since 2010. Currently, he works with 2 girls’ teams; U12 and U11 Girls Football. Something he says gives him “a break from the day job, a way to contribute to the community.” During the season, Brian dedicates up to 8 hours a week to the club.
The Importance of Sport for Young Women
Brian sees huge value and importance in the impact that sport can have for young girls and their development and says that it’s as important for girls as it is for boys. As members of a team, they make friends and have fun, enjoying the good and bad days together. But what he says is different for girls is that “it removes them, for a time at least, from the feeling that they need to be worried about their appearance. Where mud is acceptable. A sweaty brow. One sock up, one sock down. Hair tossed and tangled. And they don’t care – not one bit. Football in a small but important way shows them there is more to life and it’s ok and have confidence to be comfortable as yourself amongst good friends.”
How Can We Promote and Place Value on Women’s Sport?
It is easy to see that slow gains are being made all over the country to increase the value placed on women in sport. This all starts at the grassroots level, at which Brian is so heavily involved. He believes that women need proper sporting facilities, same as men, which can cater for the numbers in participation that have increased so rapidly in recent times. “How many pitches in Ireland have no toilets? No changing room? Clubs and associations do their best but these developments get blocked due to lack of funds or NIMBY planning blockers.”
According to Brian, this is something that has to change, and a state-funded intervention is the best way to go about this. He believes that the playing numbers and the volunteers are there to support this change. “A state intervention is the help that is required to ensure women’s field sports of all codes thrive. For me, a common sense approach is for every school in the country to get a full size all-weather GAA pitch with two soccer cross pitches. Then, local community sporting organisations can be entitled to get access.”
Brian’s attitude and commitment to sport for young girls is a perfect example of how one should attempt to influence change. His passion for sport has enabled him to facilitate the development of girls playing GAA, providing them with valuable skills to help them have confidence and seize opportunities in the future.