Women's Sport: Clare Shillington talks about how funding has changed women's cricket in Ireland

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Clare Shillington, a former Ireland international cricketer has spoken about the impact that more funding has made on the women's game.

Talking to Sportsound Extra Time on BBC Radio Ulster, Shillington, who played internationally for 21 years and retired in 2018, spoke about how the set-up is different for players now. She said: "There's six girls now within the Irish set-up that are semi-professional, part-time contracted.

"When I started we had three games a year if we were lucky - now there's fantastic opportunities for the girls that are in the game."

Shillington now works as a coach, helping with the Irish youth teams and said that there are many more opportunities for the players than when she started out as a senior aged 16. She said: "We had no memberships to gyms or access to additional staff like sports psychologists, nutritionists and all that.

"For those that are in that Under-19 group that I'm involved with, there's a great pathway of opportunity within the game now and a lot of it does come down to funding.

"It wasn't there when I started but it was certainly there towards the back end of my career and I was very lucky to have access to fantastic sports psychologists and all those additional things that really make the small percentages, changes in your game that are so important."

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Shillington who was the team's opener and the first Irish woman to reach 100 caps, is positive about how Cricket Ireland have approached the crisis, despite furloughing non-playing staff and lowering wages.  

She acknowledged the difficulties facing sporting organisations and said: "I think Cricket Ireland has done a great job, I'm obviously not involved in the senior set-up anymore but I know they're doing a lot of online stuff.

"They're providing all the players with whatever equipment they can get to them to keep themselves fit and healthy at home, and continuing contact with things like the psychologists and nutritionists and all those sorts of things."

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