WGPA and Jigsaw have come together for a new campaign with the key message “BeYou:Belong” encouraging young girls in Ireland to be be confident in their individuality. Fifteen players including Cork’s Aisling Thompson, Therese McNally of Monaghan and Offaly’s Siobhan Flannery joined in to show their unique character in a fun and confident way, symbolic of the individual within the team setting. Images of the players with positive attributes as well as player features and profiles and will develop the theme across the summer. BE-YOU-BELONG-12

Aoife Lane chair of WGPA commented “Our BeYou Belong message is focused on showing the individuals who make up a team and how this individuality can be welcomed and nurtured, which is ultimately aimed at promoting self-esteem among young girls in Ireland. We’ve highlighted these fifteen role models to represent the team environment, which is stronger when individuals can bring their own characters and experiences, to belong openly and honestly as part of the group.

We feel we can target positive self-esteem and sense of belonging through this initiative, which were both highlighted as priority areas for young people in the My World Survey. The role of our players in Irish communities, as so warmly endorsed by our government just last week, resonates strongly with the work that goes on in Jigsaw centres across the country. Together we are supporting youth mental health through key support networks and visible, relevant role models and we look forward to developing this into a wider programme promoting wellbeing among young girls.”

BE-YOU-BELONG-6Fiona McHale, one of the players involved, explained why they were keen to be involved. “As team players we can probably all relate to that fear of going into a new group situation and holding ourselves back or feeling the pressure to behave in a certain way, just to ‘fit in’. The message we wanted to get across, to young girls especially, is that it’s okay to be yourself without worrying about anyone judging you. Through coaching, I’ve become more aware of that too – giving people the confidence that the team is an open and supportive environment. We had such a diverse range of players down for the shoot but everyone was having great craic and sharing their stories of team support, that really brought it to life.”

This BeYou:Belong collaboration builds on an exciting period for both organisations with Jigsaw, formerly known as Headstong, rebranding to mark their tenth anniversary. Jigsaw provide local drop-in centres across Ireland, which aim to ensure sure every young person has somewhere to turn to and someone to talk to. While recently, the WGPA were commending the announcement of official government recognition for female intercounty players, which supports the WGPA’s work in improving the experiences of players on and off the field.

See more info on the work of Jigsaw at www.jigsaw.ie and follow the BeYou:Belong campaign across our social media sites throughout the summer.