Big Interest In Women’s Soccer For New Season

NIFWA Leagues Kick Off 2023 Season With Increasing Interest

NIFWA Leagues Kick Off 2023 Season With Increasing Interest

The Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association (NIWFA) has announced that sixty teams, including eight new clubs, are expected to participate in the 2023 season, demonstrating that interest in women’s football continues to grow at pace.

The NIWFA season, sponsored by Electric Ireland, kicked off on Sunday 23rd April when four afternoon matches took place across Northern Ireland, from Draperstown to Belfast. League matches will continue until the end of August.

Women amateur soccer players looking forward to the new season. (Photos courtesy of NIWFA).

This year’s structure sees seven main leagues, with a new Division 6 to accommodate eight new clubs. 

There will also be a new Development League running from the end of May, to give experience to six further new teams who are not quite ready for a full competitive season.

Commenting on the return to play, Valerie Heron, NIWFA Chair, said: “We’re delighted to be able to launch the 2023 season following a record number of new club applications. 

Ryleigh McComb (Valley Rangers), Katie O’Toole (Oxford Sunnyside), Andrene Walker (Electric Ireland), Joanne Corr (Belfast Ravens), Amy Stephenson (Hollywood) and Valerie Herron (NIWFA Chair).

“With continued support from Electric Ireland and, of course, growing interest in the game helped significantly by the success of the Northern Ireland Senior Ladies and their participation in the Women’s Euro Finals, it’s great to include thirteen new clubs in our season. 

“We are especially pleased to see many players from our leagues now representing NI at underage level.”

There will be seven NIWFA divisional cup competitions this season, as well as an overall NIWFA PwC Super Cup competition.

Welcoming in the new season are Andrene Walker (Electric Ireland), Patricia McCullough, Collettee Young, Conrad Kirkwood (IFA President), Ashleigh Flanaghan, Kieran Coulter (Referee Coordinator), Valerie Herron (NIWFA Chair), Dee Herron, and Paula Newton.

The Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup, CAFA Cup and Mid Ulster Cup will all be taking place this year, providing more opportunities than ever for girls and women to play competitive football.  

Commenting on the launch of the competitions Anne Smyth, Sponsorship Specialist at Electric Ireland, said: “It is so rewarding that football at grassroots level is continuing to attract a growing cohort of women who are enjoying the sport for a range of reasons.

“Women are playing for the love of the game, playing for exercise, and playing of course, to win! 

“The NIWFA season is the embodiment of what the Game Changers’ movement is all about, raising the profile of the game and providing the opportunity for girls and women of all levels of skill to take part. I’d like to wish all of the women a great season ahead.” 

The 2023 League structure:

Fixture calendar