Inclusion key to our future, says O’Neill

The biggest competition the GAA faces in trying to get people involved in their games is not from other competing sporting organisations, but rather from the problems of idleness and exclusion.

That was the message from GAA president Liam O’Neill yesterday as he commented on his support for the IRFU’s bid to host the Rugby World Cup.

“We will not be afraid to reach out our hand,” he said, adding: “What is best for our country is best for the GAA.”

He felt that while there may be some criticism, the staging of a Rugby World Cup would have huge benefits for tourism, and would also benefit the GAA and their infrastructure.

“We worry sometimes about competition from other sports but the real competition we are against is idleness and exclusion,” he stated.

Speaking in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, where he launched a novel ‘GAA for All’ initiative to encourage participation in Gaelic games from children from a non-traditional GAA background, he said: “It is important that all children are given the chance to play our wonderful game.

“There are plenty of children to feed every club and sporting organisation. We have a responsibility to give every child a chance.”

The Peace III-funded project will see the St Eunan’s club in Letterkenny employing four full-time coaches until June 2013, who will work specifically with young people from a non-traditional GAA background.

There will be a particular emphasis on attracting participants from the Protestant community and ethnic minorities.

“Children from ‘non Irish-national’ communities will be afforded a unique opportunity to learn about Irish culture and sport in a safe, non-invasive environment.

“Meanwhile, children from a traditional GAA and Irish background will learn about the other diverse cultures living in their areas through the various workshops proposed,” a club spokesman explained.


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