Summer 2022: Going for Gold
2022 is proving to be another stellar year for Northern Ireland sport. July is a month of two major tournaments where Northern Ireland will take its place on the global stage – the UEFA Women’s Euros 2022 and the XXII Commonwealth Games. For being a small place, Northern Ireland is a nation of gold-getters.
Northern Ireland’s women’s football team have made history by qualifying for the UEFA Women’s Euro finals for the first time. The international football championship will run from 6 July – 31 July throughout England. It’s a monumental event, being the first major tournament the Northern Ireland team has qualified for. They’ll play in Group A – facing opponents England, Austria, and Norway on the pitch. The team moved to a full-time model in September 2021 ahead of the Euros – a landmark achievement for professional female sport in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland recently made history, playing England in the World Cup qualifier at the National Football stadium at Windsor Park. Over 15,000 fans filled the stands, and it was broadcast live on the BBC, making it the biggest women’s football match in Northern Ireland on record.
Despite being the underdogs Northern Ireland will still be a formidable team to beat thanks to their premier squad. Captain Marissa Callaghan spoke to NI Connections last year about leading her team to victory in qualifying for the Euros. Callaghan is joined by Julie Nelson – the most capped player in NI women’s football – and BBC NI Sports Personality 2021 and top goal scorer, Rachel Furness.
XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
72 nations will come together for the 22nd edition of the Commonwealth Games, taking place in Birmingham from 27 July – to 7 August. Over 5,000 athletes will compete for 283 gold medals across 20 different sports.
Northern Ireland is an integral part of this colourful sporting celebration – this year marks their twentieth participation the games. Northern Ireland hopes to build on their 2018 triumph where they took home 1 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze medals. Rhys McClenaghan will be hoping to defend his pommel horse title after winning gold at the Gold Coast games. Northern Ireland is also hoping for success in boxing, shooting and lawn bowling.
Esports makes its debut at the games – a major step-change in the sporting industry. The Northern Irish team was assembled by Ballymena man Michael Smyth who is delighted to see Esports represented in the world’s arena.
Team NI is sending their biggest ever representation of Para-Sports athletes to the Commonwealth Games as 11 athletes set off for gold. Wheelchair basketball will make its debut this year. Team NI qualified for a spot after beating Scotland at the European qualifier when Nathan McCabe sunk the winning basket for Team NI. McCabe is joined on the court by basketball champion James McSorley who bagged a bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in May 2021. Six-time Paralympic gold medallist Bethany Firth will be back making waves in the pool alongside fellow competitors Barry McClements and Siomha Brady.
The heat is on for another knock-out summer. We’re wishing all our sporting stars the best of luck – we have everything crossed for you! To our friends abroad, we know you share our pride in belonging to a place of sporting excellence.