No time to rest on laurels as Softco support brings Tokyo 2020 firmly into focus

Anna O’Flanagan says there is no time for the Green Army to rest on their laurels as the World Cup silver medalists gear up for a Christmas Day training session as Tokyo 2020 comes firmly into view.

“We need to save up for those extra mince pies!” she joked to Dublin City FM’s Declan Hughes at today’s announcement that SoftCo will continue their journey with the Irish women’s team following their World Cup silver medal.

Roisin Upton, Ayeisha McFerran, Gillian Pinder, Anna O’Flanagan and Katie Mullan at Softco’s sponsorship announcement. Pic: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The global Finance Automation Software provider confirmed they will be the team’s main sponsor until 2021, covering the 2019 European Championships and Olympic qualifying campaign.

For O’Flanagan, she was thrilled at the extension of the deal from the company that took a punt on supporting the side, something they repaid many times over in London.

Now, though, she says the focus is very much looking forward and they will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the next key target.

“When you are a hockey player with a goal like Tokyo in your sights, training on Christmas day doesn’t really bother you,” she continued. “People will laugh and joke about it, saying ‘what are you doing?’ but our goal is always the Olympics.

“We have had a great few months [since the World Cup] but this goal hasn’t changed and we will do everything to get there.”

Their performances has set in motion some extra urgency in the delivery of top-line facilities for hockey, something that may never have been on the agenda but for their performances.

O’Flanagan says the challenge is now to get more time to actually use the planned new training centre at Abbotstown as well as the redevelopment of UCD.

“It’s amazing to see we might now have a home to play in. That was our first big need. Now we need to move on from that and get players available to train as much as we can.

“There are no restrictions now on how often we can train bar our professions or studies. Now the question is how we get together as often as we can in a professional environment.

“After the World Cup, we all went our separate ways, back to our jobs, back to studies. Our lives didn’t really change in terms of how we lived our lives, or how we approached the sport in Ireland.”

The new pitches are part of the side’s World Cup legacy; O’Flanagan, though, says that the after-effects of their achievements can potentially be far wider.

Susan Spence, Co-Founder SoftCo,Katie Mullan, Ayeisha McFerran and Softco’s Jim Coffey at Softco’s sponsorship announcement. Pic: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

“It’s been an incredible year for our sport and we are really proud of what we have achieved. Not necessarily the games that we have won but how we have put hockey on the map in Ireland has been the standout thing for us, how many people know about hockey and follow us.

“We always set out to create a legacy and be role models, not only for girls in sport but girls in general. To see lots of people picking up sticks is amazing and even girls in their teenage years that are sticking with hockey where previously might have given up, to hear stories like that is why we play the game.”

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SoftCo, the leading global Finance Automation Software provider, today announced the extension of its main sponsorship agreement for the Ireland Women’s Hockey team up until at least 2021. The partnership with Hockey Ireland will incorporate the 2019 European Championships and the team’s qualification campaign to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Commenting on the announcement, Jerome Pels, CEO, Hockey Ireland said: “SoftCo’s support of the Green Army was of real benefit in the immediate run up to the World Cup and at the tournament against the best teams in the world.

“We are now looking to build on that success with the immediate goal being qualification for the Olympics. We are delighted to once again have SoftCo’s support during an extremely important time for the team”.

Commenting on the announcement, Susan Spence, Co-Founder, SoftCo said: “We were so proud of the team in their run to the World Cup final during the summer. An Irish team achieving success on the world stage was a true inspiration to us all. This is a further significant investment to assist the team to reach its ambitious goals. We are delighted to be extending our support”

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