Brendan O’Carroll and his wife Jenny Gibney are to personally back cardiac screening for all children and adolescents in the FAI’s National League structure from U13 to U19.
O’Carroll, creator of Mrs Brown’s Boys and a long time football supporter reacted with feigned shock when John Delaney announced at the National Sports Campus that the contribution they were making amounted to €420,000.
The money will be invested over a six-year period and will cover half the cost of providing the screening and training in first aid and CPR to 500 coaches and club representatives at grassroots level.
The commitment came about after a conversation between the FAI’s Paul Byrne and O’Carroll over the fact that 5,000 people die each year in Ireland from Sudden Cardiac Death and that screening can play a huge part in saving lives.
The programme will begin in January 2019 and will now expand the mandatory screening of players coming into the game through the League of Ireland.
The FAI’s Medical Director Alan Byrne spoken yesterday of the expertise in Ireland now at recognising anomalies in ECG screening and revealed that around six percent of those screened are called back for further investigation.
“We at Mrs. Brown’s Boys are delighted to get fully behind Dr. Alan Byrne and the FAI at the beginning of this ambitious programme,” said O’Carroll yesterday after sitting hand in hand with his wife through the announcement.
“The target is set for the next six years and we will be there every step of the way. The Heart Screening programme for young footballers deserves every effort that can be mustered and we will certainly play our part.”
“Sport plays such an important role in young people’s lives and the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care Programme will help to ensure that more children and adolescents continue to play football without suffering Sudden Cardiac Death,” said Dr. Alan Byrne.
“This year UEFA made cardiac screening compulsory for all teams, male and female, taking part in any UEFA competition. Now, with the help of Brendan and Jenny, the FAI are able to roll this programme out further.”
“It is estimated that we will reach a minimum of 800 National League players in the first year, which is a fantastic start. There is a great example of this screening process working in Italy, where there has been a decrease of 89% in sudden cardiovascular death in athletes since they introduced heart screening of all children playing sport in the 1980s.”
FAI CEO John Delaney believes that this Programme, which will run for an initial six-year period, is a huge step forward in making football one of the safest sports for children to play.
“It is fantastic to get the support of Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll, as well as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys brand, for what is an incredibly worthwhile Programme that will save lives,” said Delaney.
“The passion that they have for this cause is truly inspiring and I believe that we can make a real difference around the country, making football one of the safest sports in Ireland for children to play and enjoy.”