Woman Bantry Teri Cronin will make her voice heard at new FAI General Assembly
TERI Cronin is determined to make a difference after being elected to the new FAI General Assembly.
Involved locally with the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League (WCSSL) and Bantry Bay Rovers, Cronin now wants her voice to be heard nationally.
In the same way West Cork League Secretary John Buckley of Dunmanway, Cronin will be part of the new FAI General Assembly representing his region.
A new FAI structure replaced the old establishment of the regional council committee. There will be 141 delegates from across the country and divided into three pillars: professional, amateur and national organizations. The latter will cover areas such as women’s football, schoolchildren and schoolgirls.
“My main goal is to encourage as many women as possible to take on coaching and committee roles, essentially improving the gender balance,” Cronin told The Southern Star.
“To get there, we have to start with the youngest girls. The more football they play, the more likely they are to take on coaching and committee roles as they get older. I don’t want to attend football coaches or committee meetings where I’m the only woman there anymore. It’s not a West Cork affair, it’s nationwide.
“Another important thing that needs to change is that women don’t join club or league committees just to fill administrative roles. Women should not be invited to sit on committees specifically to fill administrative roles. The only reason I agreed to sit on the West Cork Schoolboys League committee was because it wouldn’t be an administrative post.
“ I am here to express the opinion of Bantry Bay Rovers on any issues that arise. I am assuming this new role at the FAI General Assembly for exactly the same reasons, but on behalf of West Cork.
The importance of making one’s voice heard on the national stage is not lost on Cronin. The Bantry Bay Rovers club member can’t wait to take on the challenge, though he’s a little worried ahead of the first FAI meeting.
“I’m a little nervous, to be honest,” Cronin admitted.
“ Again, like anything else, this is something that I have to take responsibility for and do my best. I have phenomenal support from everyone involved with WCSSL and the Bantry Bay Rovers. Assuming that is sort of a cultural shift, not just from a woman’s perspective, but from a football culture perspective. I’m sure it won’t be an easy role, but I’ll do my best.
Cronin lives in Bantry with her husband Martin and their two sons Paddy and Christopher. His involvement with Bantry Bay Rovers began in 2012.
“ I was just a parent helping me at first, but over time I became more and more involved with the club due to my two sons playing with the minors section of the club, ” explained Cronin.
“Coaching was something that I decided to take up again thanks to the encouragement of the club. I have to say FAI’s Ray Claffey was amazing back then. Ray’s encouragement and knowledge has been invaluable to me and to others involved in the FAI Kick-Start Coaching Courses.
“ This meant I was able to deal with the younger teams at Bay Rovers as they competed in the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League weekend indoor futsal blitzes in Dunmanway and the open-air astro blitz. air to Clonakilty. These blitzes have been absolutely fantastic for the development of children. We had about 40 kids enrolled playing for Bay Rovers at the time, which meant we had to get extra help from parents. I was very busy!’
The new FAI General Assembly member continued to coach the Bay Rovers miners teams until she reached the WCSSL U12 age group. After a full season, Cronin put together a new Bay Rovers Cornets U12 team that included a mix of schoolboys and schoolgirls.
“I finished a year in U12 with the Bay Rovers boys before deciding to create a new U12 Cornets team,” said Cronin.
“ Bay had three U12 teams at the time, but I wanted to help some of the girls who were interested in playing. The Bantry Bay Rovers have always been progressive when it comes to promoting the participation of women on and off the pitch. Everyone in the club is extremely proud of it.
“ Right now we have Donal McGrath (teacher) encouraging the transition year students to play football and get involved in the coaching side as well. Elaine Courtney rose through the ranks as a minor sections coach with me and there’s also Helen Martin with the Bantry Bay women’s team who played in the West Cork League last year. They went on to win the Lake House Beauty Rooms Shield 7s trophy.
“It’s great to see more and more women coaching on the sideline like Helen and Elaine. When our youngest players, ages seven and eight, start playing, there should be no difference to them whether their coach is male or female. Sex should never enter it. This is what we try to instill from the grassroots at the youth and women’s level in Bay Rovers.
Cronin’s impressive work with his local club has not gone unnoticed. She was invited to get involved at the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League committee level and welcomed the opportunity.
“I have been a member of the West Cork Schoolboys and Schoolgirls League committee for over five years at this point,” she said.
“Having the chance to have a say at West Cork committee level is important, not just for your own club, but for all clubs in the region. Being involved in the introduction of a new U11 league is one example. We wanted to give these kids an extra year of play before their first two years of (competitive) U12 football, so they could understand the rules and get used to playing at that level.
Making a positive impact with the Bantry Bay Rovers at club and WCSSL committee levels has helped raise Cronin’s profile over the past decade. Now the Bantry native, along with John Buckley of the West Cork League, has the opportunity to represent her club, league and region nationally at the FAI General Assembly. Few people are better prepared and able to make their voices heard.