After the second pool game victory over India in the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, Taoiseach Leo Varadhkar tweeted his congratulations to the Irish women’s team. It was welcomed with mixed emotions among the fan zone, who felt that full funding of this historically successful team will be the more apt recognition it deserved.
In Ireland, it is difficult to work out exactly which ways money comes to the sport as in the form of grants and under various schemes such as women in sports and high-performance sports. Out of the €10.81m to 58 Irish sports allocated by Sports Ireland in 2017, hockey’s cut didn’t go to the athletes as the grant covered administration, participation programs, coach development, hosting events and the employment of professional staff. Recently the Irish men’s team coach, Craig Fulton announced his departure from the Irish scene whose one reason for the decision was the underfunded players.
However, after the runners-up finish at the women’s Hockey World Cup, Irish government pledges an additional €447, 000 to Hockey Ireland which is hopefully a good start for the sport.
This is not just an isolated scenario. Ranked world no: 15, the South African men’s hockey may not be amongst the favorite to lift the trophy who succumbed to defeat at the opening game against India, but that did not stop them from living their dream of representing the country at the world cup.
Among the many hurdles to face by the South African hockey players, one of them is having to pay from their own pockets to be at the 18-day mega event in Bhubaneswar. Coach Mark Hopkins said the biggest stumbling block for the growth of the game is the lack of funds. He also added that there is a possibility if they don’t get to cover the shortfall of the fund, the players might have to pay for the World Cup trip too.
The story doesn’t end here. It was painfully obvious to all the West Indies cricket fans that the West Indies Cricket Board was unable to cope up with the financial power of other cricket loving countries. In fact, in 2005, they did not even appear for a tri-series in Australia due to the payment disagreement. More international players of the country are choosing to play T20 cricket around the world for substantial earnings, something that other formats controlled by the WICB can’t do.
Tales of national sports facing financial troubles go on and on. Sports unite people despite their color, religion or nationality. But there are miles to go before we reach the goal of oneness through the powerful media of sports.