Deasy: We need to retain young women in sport

March 16th, 2022 6:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Marguerite Deasy (second from right) with rowers and organisers at the 2021 Irish Offshore Championships in Bantry.

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RING Rowing Club stalwart Marguerite Deasy is one of Rowing Ireland’s participants in this year’s Women in Leadership Programme.

Rowing Ireland is committed to increasing women’s sustained involvement in sport, as coaches, volunteers, club members, athletes, leaders, and participants from grassroots to high performance. With that in mind, Rowing Ireland recently put forward three women for the prestigious Women in Leadership Programme, which is delivered through a series of online interactive sessions.

Deasy is well known within West Cork sporting circles for her work with Ring Rowing Club, which is based just outside Clonakilty in West Cork. She has over 30 years rowing and administrative experience.


‘Getting such a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk to other women of similar interests and backgrounds is one of the things I’m most looking forward to while participating in the Women in Leadership Programme,’ Marguerite Deasy told The Southern Star.

‘Participating in the programme and gaining a different outlook on aspects of some of the roles I am responsible for should be hugely beneficial. Also, the fact that so many experienced people will be there and making connections with those people is another aspect of the programme I am really looking forward to.’

Deasy’s diary is already packed. She is the current vice-chair of Ring Rowing Club where she also coaches and coxes. She is also Chair of Rowing Ireland Offshore Rowing. Last year, the versatile administrator was also Team Manager of the Irish Beach Sprints Team at the World Rowing Beach Sprints finals (WRBSF) as well as Chair of the Irish Offshore Rowing Championships.

‘I started off with Clonakilty Rowing Club which no longer exists and joined Ring Rowing Club which I am still an active member of to this day,’ she explained.

‘I have taken on a lot of different roles over the years on the local circuit with South West rowing. From there, I got into club development and that’s something I really enjoy, helping clubs develop. I am part of the South West’s coxing course as well.

‘As for females in sport, rowing would have been a very male-dominated sport at one stage. That’s why we like to promote and attract as many women to the sport as we can. Now, I can safely say that numbers-wise, women are taking over from the males at this stage. That’s a good sign but we do need to look at retaining young women in sport through different areas and initiatives.’

Of all the offshore rowing positions Deasy has held, being Team Manager of the Irish Beach Sprints Team is by far the most innovative and interesting. A sport that is surging in popularity, not just in West Cork, but around the globe could well become an Olympic discipline by the time the 2028 Games roll around.

‘The development of the underage section of those sports is crucial to their outcome later on because you need to start targeting your 12 and 14-year-olds right now to get them going ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games,’ Deasy explained.

‘Anything is possible when it comes to Beach Sprinting because there are so many variants to it. Every second counts in this sport. You begin on a start line against your opponents. Then you race down a beach and jump into your boat. From there you navigate your way out over three buoys in a slalom course. You return to the beach, jump out of the boat and sprint up the beach to the finishing buzzer.

‘There are a lot of different elements to the sport. That is the challenge now for rowing clubs, to develop Beach Sprints Teams. Now is the time to start training ahead of the 2028 Olympics.’

These are exciting times for offshore rowing and beach sprints events so, how much has Skibbereen Rowing Club, the O’Donovan brothers and Irish international female rowers influenced the up-and-coming rowers Deasy has overseen in recent years?

‘There is no doubt about it but the Olympic rowers from West Cork have been huge role models for young people coming up (through the ranks),’ Deasy said.

‘In our own Ring Rowing Club, you would often hear the kids talking about them. Not just about gold medals but even the kids know themselves what needs to go into this sport if you want to reach the top.

‘Having a club like Skibbereen in West Cork is fantastic. They are a great club and it is great to see those local guys and girls achieve what they have during our lifetime because people now know what you have to put your body through to reach that level.’


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