The 2009 Vhi GAA Cúl Camps were officially launched this morning in Croke Park by Christy Cooney, in his first official outing as President of GAA, Declan Moran, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Vhi Healthcare, Anthony Daly current Dublin hurling manager and former captain of the Clare senior intercounty hurling team, and Colm O'Rourke, former inter-county Gaelic footballer for Meath.
Also on hand to mark the launch were current players Richie Hogan (Kilkenny hurler), Angela Walsh (Cork ladies footballer), Sinéad Cahalane (Galway camogie player) and Ross McConnell (Dublin footballer) and Paul Brady (Cavan international handball champions).
These players will serve as ambassadors, visiting camps throughout the summer and will also train the lucky children selected to take part in the Vhi GAA Cúl Day Out in September, giving tips to children on how to improve their game.
Now in its fourth year, the Vhi GAA Cúl Camps are a nationally co-ordinated programme that encourages primary school children between the ages of seven and 13, not only to learn and develop sporting skills irrespective of sporting skills or ability but also to develop a keen sense of fair-play and personal achievement by participating in Gaelic Games, in a fun, non-competitive environment.
The individual camps are managed by experienced coaches who have devised a specific programme to ensure the participating children not only learn skills but also to place an emphasis on fun and team-building activity.
This year, the Vhi GAA Cúl Camps are offering children the chance to train with their heroes and play in Croke Park with the introduction of the Vhi GAA Cúl Day Out. The Vhi GAA Cúl Camps are the only summer camp to offer children the chance to win one of 240 places to train and play with GAA greats in Croke Park on September 28, 2009.
Over 83,000 children will attend the Vhi GAA Cúl Camps throughout the summer – there are camps taking place in almost every GAA club around the country and in over 20 overseas GAA clubs, in the US (New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia), Canada (Toronto), the UK (London, Scotland, Bristol, Birmingham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Herefordshire) and it is hoped to have a camp in Europe (Brittany, France) also.
Speaking at the launch, GAA President Christy Cooney, said: “The Vhi GAA Cúl Camp initiative is a hugely important vehicle for us as an association presenting us and our coaches with the chance to cater for so many children through the medium of fun and games in a safe environment.
"The Club is at the heart of this initiative and in some instances the camps provide children with an opportunity to interact with their local clubs for the very first time. With this in mind visits made by ambassadors always adds interest and excitement to the camps and this year’s line up includes a number of top GAA personalities and players.
"The Association’s partnership with Vhi Healthcare has helped strengthen the concept and we look forward to building on the impressive attendance figures achieved in previous years.”
Declan Moran, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Vhi Healthcare commented: "Vhi Healthcare is committed to the nationwide promotion of healthy living at community level, ensuring that our children live healthy and active lives. We have worked closely with the GAA to ensure that the Vhi GAA Cúl Camps are great fun and a good challenge to all involved.
"This year we are delighted to offer participants an opportunity to realise their dreams with the Vhi GAA Cúl Day Out which will see 240 lucky children train with their heroes, get a tour of Croke Park and play games in the world-famous stadium.”
The 2009 Vhi GAA Cúl Camps are expected to be extremely popular therefore parents are advised to book early to ensure they get a place at the camp of their choice. This year parents will have the option to book places online through the newly revamped Vhi GAA Cúl Camps website which can be accessed through www.gaa.ie or www.vhi.ie.
The website contains application forms, county-by-county details regarding camps and the dates they are taking place on, contact details regarding the individual county co-ordinators and information regarding the camps, nutrition tips and much more. As with previous years application forms and information about the Vhi GAA Cúl Camps will also be available in clubs nationwide.
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, which represents independent national, regional and local radio stations and the Irish Daily Star are the media partners to the Vhi Cúl Camps 2009 and will promote the initiative to a wide audience on 19 radio stations and in print in the coming months.