THE pilot youth development sports camps rolled out by the GAA and Celtic FC Foundation concluded last week with a visit by the Dublin camp participants to Croke Park.
The Dublin camp, held over the Halloween break in DCU’s Sports campus, was the final in the pilot series. It was preceded by two equally successful camps in Ballymote, Co. Sligo, and Lurgan, Co. Armagh, in June and August respectively.�
The innovative partnership between the GAA and Celtic FC Foundation aimed to bring an equally innovative approach to the traditional sports camp model by delivering multi-sport on-field activities combined with off-field workshops designed to enhance participants’ life skills in areas including communication, self-efficacy, leadership, team-building, and drug and alcohol education.�
The three camps brought together a host of young people, both boys and girls aged 13-15 years-old, from different sporting and cultural backgrounds.�
A broad variety of sports clubs, youth organisations, and schools partnered in the recruitment of participants and assisted the GAA’s Community & Health section in the delivery of the off-field activities.�
On the field of play, top GAA coaches from Connacht, Ulster, and Dublin GAA, provided skills development in Gaelic football, hurling/camogie, and rounders, while top coaches from Celtic provided the soccer coaching.�
The Ballymote camp, home of the founder of Celtic, Brother Walfrid, was hosted by Ballymote GAA and Ballymote Celtic FC, with participants also being drawn from numerous surrounding GAA and soccer clubs.�
The youth development organisation, Foróige, assisted in its delivery. Lismore Comprehensive School hosted the Lurgan camp, which was also supported by Brownlow Integrated College, Craigavon, and Glenavon FC. Lurgan YMCA and Peace Players International (Northern Ireland) assisted in the delivery of the off-field activities, which reflected the cross-community nature of the participating teenagers.�
The Dublin camp drew boys and girls from an array of GAA and soccer clubs across the north city, as well as representatives from Ballybough Youth Project, Doneycarney Youth Project, and Larkin Community College.�
Speaking at the conclusion of the pilot Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael�
Liam ó Néill said: “I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all those who made this happen most notably our own coaches, those provided by Celtic, the numerous supporting agencies and of course the teenagers who participated so enthusiastically in the camps.
“While sport was at the heart of the activity there was so much more to on offer and the venture has been most worthwhile from that perspective alone.’
Speaking on behalf of Celtic, Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell said: “The GAA have been great partners for us and we are very happy to have had the chance to work with them over these past few months.
“I am delighted these camps were a success and I hope that we can continue to work with the GAA in 2014 and beyond, possibly with a view to staging similar events jointly here in Scotland.”