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 just completed a two year cycle of the Urban Programme delivery. Through the work of four LGFA Urban Programme Officers, supported by GAA funding, Gaelic4Girls has reached every county in Ireland over the past 2 years.
Each round of Gaelic4Girls culminates in a Blitz Day. The Blitz days are all about fun, inclusiveness and giving the participants a chance to showcase what they have learnt over the previous 8 weeks coaching.
This year the Gaelic4Girls National Blitz Day was held in Croke Park. This meant that all participating towns from September 2011 and March 2012 were offered the opportunity to send a panel of 15 players to Croke Park to participate in the Blitz. In total, over 4,000 girls have participated in the Gaelic4Girls programme, in over 100 Urban areas, since July 2010.
This isn’t just any regular Blitz however! Upon arrival participants head straight into the Croke Park dressing rooms where they get themselves togged out and ready for fun. After their coaches collect their packed lunches they consult their maps and bring their teams to the stands beside where they will be playing their small sided games. Then the real fun begins!
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 and had question and answer time. 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.
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 20 referees present in Croke Park were just newly qualified Grab Your Whistle Referees. Many of whom were female. Getting more females involved in refereeing is a very specific aim of the LGFA and the fact that many of the referees were female at the Gaelic4Girls Blitz is a very positive step forward.
The 23rd 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 23rd 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:
Paula Prunty, National Games Development Officer, Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Croke Park, Dublin 3 Ph: (01) 8363156 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography is available from Hurson Photography, www.hursonphotography.com Ph: 087 770980
Check out some of the action!