Newly appointed chairperson of the London Ladies county board Lucia Butler’s main aim for the next year is to continue the recent strides forward in developing the game.
As well as working hard at providing more competition at youth level, the Wexford native Lucia Butler wants to ensure that the ladies’ teams are more visible in the county.
“This is an exciting year ahead,” she told the Irish World. “With the new development at Ruislip showcasing what London has to offer I want the ladies to be as involved as much as possible.
“And because of that our board will be working as closely with the men’s and youths boards as much as possible to unite the county. “It is all for the betterment of the county at the end of the day.”
There is a relatively new look to this year’s ladies county board, and Lucia believes she has the right delegates in place to help her to work towards her plans. “We have some great people on board, and we all have the same vision and wish to work in harmony together to build on the success of last year.
“The county team had a great year in winning the All- Britain league and championship, and were unfortunate to be knocked out in the All-Ireland semifinal.
“But that is where we want to be and we need to do all we can to improve on that for the next year.” Lucia, who has served as London youths PRO, worked with the Tara underage, as well as PRO for Fr. Murphys, has been involved with Gaelic games since her childhood, winning two All- Ireland medals with Wexford as a minor. And it is the youth system where Lucia shows a real passion, having founded the annual Tara J Ffrench tournament in September 2014.
“I am so honoured to have been given this opportunity and I am really going to enjoy the challenge. I want to make sure that the ladies, and girls, have more football and competition to enjoy, but also to try and bridge the gap for that enjoyment, so there are not massive scoreline differences which lead to walkovers.
“We will be making changes. Maybe bringing down the playing numbers in competitions where the teams are struggling to reinvigorate the game, and get players re-engaged and just enjoying it.
“I look forward to working with the rest of the board with a fresh perspective on things, and we will leave no stone unturned. We all have a great passion for the game, and I am delighted to be representing my Tara family. I am happy to have the club recognised this way.
“We will be making some changes as we go on. In order to continue in years to come with a good county team we need to start at grass roots level, with the underage and work our way up.
“Once the girls reach the age of 12, they come under us, as opposed to the youth board, so we need to keep them interested. One aim of mine would be looking to maybe starting an U14 tournament, if not this year, in the near future.
“There is nothing for them here in London apart from the ABCs, which is one of the reasons I felt it was important to start up the Tara J Ffrench tournament.
“Now we are looking at taking that one step forward and hopefully start up either a league or championship so that the underage football can blossom in London.” And Lucia also wants to highlight the work done before her.
“There have been a great many of supporters of the ladies in London, and I wish to thank them for all their hard work and continued support. We have had great sponsorship support, and I look forward to working with our sponsors again this year.
“Any one interested in sponsorship opportunities are also welcome to get in touch. I would like to thank Tom Murphy for all his hard work in managing the county team last year.
“We are in the middle of our search for a new manager for 2017 as Tom has left the county. Tir Chonaill Gaels must also be given praise for their support and use of their facilities too.”
And the first girls’ event has already taken place this year, as U14 teams from Scotland, Birmingham and Luton came to play London sides in Greenford.
“A total of 64 players attended, and I would like to thank our children’s office Coleen Lynott and our development officer Claire Twoey for all their hard work in the build-up and on the day.”