The GAA, in partnership with Google, has launched a new anti-bullying and internet safety programme to over 100 participating clubs from the GAA, Ladies Football and Camogie Associations in Ireland and Britain.

The series of different initiatives that clubs will be able to avail of are targeted at the 9 – 12 years age group.

Wrapped up as part of the Gaelic Games, Give Respect – Get Respect initiative, the programme incorporates Google’s Be Internet Legends initiative, an existing free, online safety education programme for primary-age children helping them to become safe and confident explorers of the online world.

Give Respect – Get Respect promotes respecting fellow players, coaches, referees, opponents and officials; playing fair; treating others equally; setting an example; and creating an environment where children feel confident and comfortable talking to a coach or adult if they have a concern.

The extension to incorporate Google’s programme helps children bring the respect and values they learn on the field of play into their online interactions encompassing learnings and activities in the areas of anti-bullying, developing positive behaviour and staying safe online.

“This is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness around the need for young players to show respect for referees, fellow players, coaches and opponents, both on and off the field of play,” said GAA President Larry McCarthy.

“It is the Association’s intention to further develop the ‘Respect Initiative’ over the period of our recently launched Strategic Plan and this new Anti-Bullying and Internet Safety Programme will be supported and closely monitored.”

“At Google Ireland, we recognise the responsibility that we have as a company to protect and support the users of our products,” added Shane Nolan, Director, New Business Sales, EMEA, Google Ireland and an under age coach with Ranelagh Gaels club in Dublin.

“We need to play our part in ensuring that the internet is an accessible resource to all and that it’s used in a positive way.”

“We are delighted to build upon our already successful partnership with the GAA to deliver the Be Internet Legends programme to even more clubs and children across the country. Google Ireland is committed to helping empower young people to act wisely, responsibly and safely all the while remaining confident explorers of the online world.”

Speaking to Sport for Business afterwards Nolan added that “Globally, Google partners with a broad range of charitable organisations and groups focused on online safety in the delivery of the Be Internet Legends programme. These include Altroconsumo and Fondazione Mondo Digitale in Italy, Foundation for Research & Technology – SaferInternet4Kids in Greece and Parentzone in the UK as well as A Lust for Life & Barnardos here in Ireland.”

It is not the first time that Google has partnered with Gaelic Games. In 2020, it partnered with the GPA in a mentorship programme to provide expertise and guidance to 20 Irish-owned businesses run by inter-county GAA players.

“The programme was a huge success with 100 per cent of participants saying they would recommend it,” added Nolan.

“Google sponsors the Festival of Football in our local neighbourhood, Ringsend. In partnership with local clubs St. Pats CY and Cambridge FC, we supported the coordination of a week-long series of community football games. The event saw locals from age 5 to 60+ participate.”

“We are always on the lookout for partnerships that help to promote education, wellness and community and there is a real appetite to explore more options, particularly in the locality of Google’s EMEA HQ in Dublin.”

Minister for Sport Jack Chambers T.D was also at the launch of the programme.

“Abuse of our players, coaches, referees and volunteers is unacceptable and must be called out – whether it occurs on the pitch, in the training grounds, up in the stands or online,” he said.

“This initiative underlines the commitment of the Gaelic Games family to tackling the scourge of bullying and to protect and safeguard all those who participate.”

“The initiative equips young people to identify and learn how to respond to online abuse and bullying, with the learnings then applied to a sports setting. I congratulate the GAA and partners Google on this welcome and important initiative and look forward to it being rolled out to children in clubs across the country.”

The project was led within the GAA by Dermot Howlin who heads up the Safeguarding Committee as well as working with the Wexford Senior Hurling backroom team and is also the National Policy and Welfare Manager at Gymnastics Ireland.



Sport for Business Partners