Meath's Vikki Wall backs Gaelic Games Player Pathway to keep teens involved
MEATH Ladies Football star Vikki Wall was a fine choice to help launch the new Gaelic Games Player Pathway – not just because of her achievements but simply for sticking with the sport.
Player retention is a concern addressed by the pathway, which is welcomed by Dunboyne's Wall: "The fact that the player pathway focuses so strongly on the club is a huge part.
"I know that people drop away from the club rather than the county and especially for women, between the ages of 16 and 18 is pivotal, and the fact we are focussing on club, and whether you are male or female now, when you go in at nursery level now you can see a clear pathway equal to both that will hopefully tackle some of the retention issues."
The recently-crowned Intermediate Ladies Footballer of the Year might have abandoned the game herself due to the abuse she received about her weight for several seasons in her late teens.
Having addressed the subject in a recent interview, 22-year-old Wall said she had been "overwhelmed" by the reaction "but I also think it has been really encouraging that a lot of younger girls have reached out to me.
"I did not realise it was such a problem but the fact that these girls have reached out to me with their stories, having that conversation on the topic was not a bad thing…
"I did have contact from some parents thanking me and it kind of shocked me how young it is, players who are under-12, under-14, and it is not something at that age I would have been conscious of. I think it is definitely trickling down into younger ages and a little more conversation and awareness about the topic is a good thing…
"I do just think more talking about it and more acknowledgment that it's not okay is the way forward. The fact that maybe more people are coming out and talking about it - it's definitely not just in the female side of things, I know it's relevant to the male game as well."