Much is spoken of the powerful role of the GAA club in our society and communities. With over one million members the Association is the largest cicic society group in the country and unlike any other sporting organisation in the influence it holds based on a sport that is largely still unique to the Irish heritage.
On Sunday the Sunday Independent will publish a 32 page supplement looking at every aspect of ‘Club Life’.
Billed as being ‘everything the committed volunteer, parent or casual supporter needs to know about GAA clubs,’ it has been pulled together by Sports editor John Greene who is heavily involved himself as a parent, coach, official and most likely, like most, some form of bottle washer at every level.
“A few years ago, when the country was still mired in recesssion, I was driving across the country one winter’s night, returning home from a funeral,”writes Greene in his introduction to the supplement.
“As I passed through small towns and villages which had been devastated by the economic collapse — businesses shut down, houses empty and little sign of life — I was struck by one thing: In so many of those towns and villages there was some activity around their GAA grounds, under the glare of floodlights; light in a land of darkness.”
It promises to be a mix of the poetic and the prosaic. From James O’Connor describing the ideal training session to Marie Crowe on equality across codes, Joe Brolly, Paul Kimmage and Eamon Sweeney with their unique takes on what it is to be part of a club, and practical advice from Eddie Kelly of AIB and Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business on how clubs can realise and manage their financial potential.
“The standard metric should be that the day to day running costs of a club should be met through membership fees and that any additional fundraising goes towards special projects, teams or trips,” writes Hartnett.
“In GAA clubs the balance lies a long way short of 100%, in places as low as 60% and that puts extra pressure on fundraisng initiatives.”
It promises to be a valuable look at an important element of sport in Ireland in 2016.