New £1m ‘Gaelfast’ initiative is backed to grow game in Belfast
A much longed-for initiative to help strengthen and promote Gaelic Games across Belfast was unveiled yesterday at the City Hall and is expected to provide the impetus for a growth in club playing membership.
‘Gaelfast’, a visionary five-year plan, is unique within the GAA and represents the biggest ever non-capital initiative by the GAA in Northern Ireland. It will see expert coaches placed in schools across Belfast in order to promote the ethos of the Association alongside games development.
The £1m project has been warmly welcomed by the Ulster Council, Antrim county board and the clubs within the county, particularly those in Belfast, some of whom have been battling against financial hardship.
‘Gaelfast’ will commence in September this year and will initially see around 20 schools across Belfast taking part. Coaches will be in the schools one day per week and the scheme will be overseen by an appointed Belfast regeneration manager.
GAA President John Horan was among the dignitaries at the launch and believes that ‘Gaelfast’ will be a huge boost for the GAA in the city.
“The GAA is in excellent health across Ulster and this five-year plan will help increase participation in Gaelic Games in Belfast, the second largest city on the island,” asserted Horan.
“The GAA has its roots in communities and I think that through this initiative it will become even more firmly embedded in Belfast.”
Antrim chairman Collie Donnelly believes that the ‘Gaelfast’ initiative could not be coming at a better time for the city.
“It will offer the scope and encouragement for progress and it is a most welcome venture that can only deliver positive dividends for the city,” he said.
“It will also help our clubs to grow and obviously it will give young people the opportunity to participate fully at school and club level.”