FOLLOWING hot on the heels of Ulster University’s GAA team, it has now been confirmed that the Shane O Neills ladies senior football team from Armagh will embark on a two-week visit to China, from December 30-January 13.
Since June of this year, the ladies have been very generously sponsored by Confucius Institute.
The trip is facilitated and funded through the Institute, based in UUJ and a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education.
This visit is classed as an academic and cultural exchange under the Study in China programme.
The travelling party, consisting of 30 players and mentors, will initially arrive into Beijing before travelling on to three different universities over a 9-day period.
They shall visit the Universities of Wuhan, Huangshi and Yitchang.
Each morning, the team will take part in classes, learning about Chinese language, culture, history and contemporary society.
In fact, weekly Mandarin lessons at the club have already begun in preparation.
The afternoons will be spent demonstrating and coaching Gaelic football to the Chinese students.
This format is followed until returning to Beijing for four days of guided sightseeing, with visits to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Olympic Stadium and Tiananmen Square being arranged, with no doubt some time being set aside for the much-vaunted shopping therapy!
This represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience and learn so much of this rich culture and fascinating country.
Shane O Neills will be the first club to undertake such a visit.
This incredible opportunity represents an investment in the future reputation of the Shane O’Neills club and even more so in their players, who have always been excellent ambassadors for club and county over the years.
It goes without saying of course that this experience will certainly add to the personal and professional development of all involved, especially those who are training and studying in the fields of education and business.
Those making the journey are currently going through the visa application process, while continuing with basic language and cultural lessons.
There is considerable growing media interest in the trip, being such a unique opportunity to promote ladies football and the wider business and educational prospects for young women.
The Shane O’Neills club will strive to keep everyone updated as everything progresses.