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TG4 All Stars bring Ladies Gaelic to Schools


THE leading Ladies Gaelic Footballers in Ireland, who comprise the current TG4 Allstars tour group visiting Hong Kong, gained an authentic experience of how the game is being promoted in Asia when they visited eleven schools yesterday to demonstrate the skills of the game. The exercise came about as a result of requests made to Ladies Association CEO Helen O’Rourke when the tour was being planned and proved to be both enriching and inspirational for the girls.

Galway star Sinéad Burke, a teacher in Dublin, was part of a group of five who visited an all-Chinese school– leaving the hotel at 7.15 a.m. and taking a taxi to one of the outlying islands. “We had assembly this morning and we separately took groups of 50 for a PE lesson,” she outlined.

“We gave them the rules and the skills involved in Ladies Gaelic Football. They actually showed a video in assembly and it gave them a bit of a head start when they practised it in the lesson. It was a great opportunity to show them the skills, they were so enthusiastic. They loved the idea of the Gaelic and they were in awe of us showing them.”

Hong Kong club Vice-Chairman Ruth Wynne explained how they established links with the schools initially. “The international schools here would be predominantly taught through English, with the Chinese or Mandarin class taught separately. A lot of our teacher members are in those schools and it started with one or two people trying to develop the sport among children in the schools – starting in the primary schools and taking it on from there.

“It sort of grew with the children if you like. So, for the past couple of years we have had coaches come out from Ireland for six weeks for a semester or half-semester and coach in primary schools. Last year we had two coaches out and they were in ten or twelve primary schools for the six weeks and the kids absolutely love it – that they can use feet and hands playing the game.

“It’s all about building for the future. The long-term aim to create ‘a club like home,’ to have them coming right through the under-age. And there is that potential within Hong Kong, within the Irish community and outside it.

“Starting in the Irish community is the way these children would bring friends in. That’s one way and the other way is the international schools!

“Nowadays we have a mini-crèche on the sideline on a Saturday game and it’s great that way. We are getting the family element and we are getting the young people – so it is creating something for them and that Irish link when they are so far from home. And the game appeals to everyone. Whether they have an Irish background or not, it doesn’t make a difference.”

LGFA President Pat Quill is equally enthusiastic about the Hong Kong club’s plans. “If any Gaelic unit is serious about expanding, that’s the way to go about it – to get into the schools and spread their wings. If you want to develop you have to go into the community!”

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