18 Counties, 60 Towns, over 900 players….
Results in a busy day in Croke Park for the Ladies Gaelic Football Association!
Gaelic4Girls is one of the biggest initiatives of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA). It is an 8 week programme that allows girls between the ages of 9 and 13 try out Ladies Gaelic in a fun and inclusive environment. The LGFA are currently half way through a two year cycle of the Urbanisation Programme delivery. Through the work of four LGFA Urban Programme Officers, supported by GAA funding, Gaelic4Girls will have reached every county in Ireland by June 2012.
This year the Gaelic4Girls National Blitz Day was held in Croke Park. This meant that all participating towns from September 2010 and March 2011 were offered the opportunity to send a panel of 15 players to Croke Park to participate in the Blitz. In total, over 3,000 girls have participated in the Gaelic4Girls programme, in 64 Urban areas, since July 2010.
Tipperary was proudly represented in Croke Park by teams from Cashel, Carrick on Suir, Ballina and Roscrea making the journey to Croke Park. All areas had participated in the Gaelic4Girls programme over the last year. Since September 2010 nearly 250 girls from Tipperary have taken part in the Gaelic4Girls programme and have been introduced to Ladies Football in a fun environment with the programme. The four areas travelled up with a huge band of supporters for this momentous day and certainly made their voices heard!! The Gaelic4Girls programmes in Cashel and Carrick on Suir have been in conjunction with South Tipperary Sports Partnership and in Roscrea and Ballina North Tipperary Sports Partnership; both LSP’s played a crucial role in driving the initiative.
Upon arrival at the blitz, participants headed straight into the Croke Park dressing rooms where they got themselves togged out and ready for fun. After their coaches collect their packed lunches they consulted their maps and brought their teams to the stands beside where they would be playing their small sided games. Then the real fun started!
Each team played at least 4 matches and also spent a half hour with some of the games most well known and influential county stars. The county players played games with the girls, answered questions and autographed everything from t-shirts to football boots!! This is one of the most important parts of the day as young Gaelic players get an opportunity to talk to girls that started out just like them but may now have played in Croke Park many times and achieved great things in a variety of sports not just Ladies Football. What better role model for girls today!
While the Gaelic4Girls participants were of course the centre of the day there were many other people involved in the Blitz. All games need referees and the 15 referees present in Croke Park were just newly qualified female Grab Your Whistle Referees. Getting more females involved in refereeing is a very specific aim of the LGFA and the fact that all the referees were female at the Gaelic4Girls Blitz is a very positive step forward.
The 5th of July in Croke Park also exemplified what is the cornerstone of all Gaelic Games – volunteerism. Between those who travelled with the teams, those who coached the teams, those who refereed, those who co-ordinated pitches, those who came as county players and role models, there were hundreds of people there who gave up their own free time, some probably taking time off work in order to provide young girls of Ireland with a fun, positive and extremely special experience in what is the most significant sporting arena in Ireland.
Anyone who was lucky enough to be in Croke Park on the 5th of July would have witnessed all that is good about Ladies Gaelic Football – positivity, inclusivity, co-operation and fun – and hundreds of happy kids of course!
Further information can be received by contacting:
Tara Ryan, Urban Programme Officer –
or 087 7679773
Photography is available from Hurson Photography, www.hursonphotography.com Ph: 087 7709800