As the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 comes to a close in Paris today, there’s been a lot of speculation about the role this tournament is playing in turning the tide of audience favour when it comes to women’s sport.
Anecdotally, its consistent placing in social media trends would give you to believe it’s a massive success.
For sponsorship and marketing experts, anecdotes won’t be enough. Endless analysis will be done in front of screens and behind the scenes once today’s spectacle ends, about what each of the figures mean.
For broadcasters, it will be about determining whether the investment was worth it. For sporting organisations, it’s another opportunity to sit up and take notice of the interest in the female side of the football coin.
The expanding role of women is just one of the seismic shifts happening in the structure of sport.
Disruption is the name of the game. I’m conscious of my role as a woman in one of the rapidly expanding areas – the business of sport.
I’m the Operations Director at One-Zero 2019, which will take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in September. I was headhunted for the role because I’ve delivered results in sports and event management for 15 years around the world.
My experience has brought me to senior roles in Special Olympics organisations in Australia and Ireland and I also played a pivotal part in the staging of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Working at One-Zero is a real thrill because of the new elements of sport that are going to be on display and discussed by experts leading the way into new territory for everyone. It’s a rare gem in the sporting world where women aren’t facing the gender catch-up challenge, because they’re positioned as thought-leaders from the start.
I’m a firm believer in: “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. It was when I was working with Jo McDaid, the operations director at Special Olympics Ireland, that I realised I could turn my love of sport into a fulfilling and challenging career off the field.
Women and girls all over the world have been ‘seeing it’ played out on French pitches for the past month as they watched women at the pinnacle of professional football.
If they’re to ‘be it’, that example must be sustained. Women’s football has got a significant leg-up with the Women’s World Cup. What’s next?
Broadcasters can’t claim the interest isn’t there. FIFA expects the tournament’s total views to reach 1 billion across all platforms worldwide.
The prime time stage for women’s football must be expanded to other sports. It won’t have to be as costly as the World Cup, but it would come with a significantly valuable public service broadcasting return.
My personal experience has allowed me work with fantastic female administrators and participants in organisations and sports like the FAI, Special Olympics Ireland, Paralympics Ireland, cricket, hockey, archery and more.
The players, the competitive spirit, the inspirational stories, the sporting skills are all there if we look and if they are given the platform.
The curtain may be falling on this inspiring episode in women’s sport. But it can’t be the end of the story.
Elaine Taylor is the operations manager at One-Zero, which will take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in September.