Cork City launch their More Than A Club project
The Leesiders have been selected alongside Irish rivals Bohemians and Welsh clubs Conwy Borough FC and Haverfordwest County AFC to pioneer this project which will run for an initial 18 month period.
This project is supported by the Ireland Wales European Territorial Co-Operation programme, which aims to strengthen collaboration between Ireland and Wales to address common economic and social challenges in these local areas.
Following consultation with every League of Ireland club within the Ireland Wales Cooperation Area, Cork City and Bohemians were the two nominated to pioneer this pilot programme.
And speaking at the launch of this new Cork City Football Enterprise, which is an EU funded collaboration between the FAI and Cork City FC, Vice President of the FAI Donal Conway admitted it wasn’t by chance that these were the two clubs selected.
“This programme has two Irish clubs Cork City and Bohemians and it’s not by accident that they were the two clubs chosen,” admitted Conway.
“It reflects on them, it reflects on their community involvement over the last number of years and it reflects on what we saw in their strategic plans when they were submitted to us.
“So it’s not an accident, it wasn’t two names pulled out of a hat. They’re the two clubs because they deserve to be the two clubs.
“We are delighted that this is launching. It’s being funded by the European Development Fund and I am very confident that this club along with Bohemians is equipped to add that social dividend.
“Cork City have a great brand and I would like to think this will enhance the brand and lead to the club becoming more sustainable.”
It is hoped by the FAI that this new project developed in cooperation with City and Bohemians will act as a flagship model and will eventually encourage other SSE Airtricity League clubs to follow suit.
Following this launch, Cork City are looking to having the first of these five social programmes up and running in the next few weeks beginning with Walking Football which looks at getting older people active whilst the Book Of You will give senior citizens an opportunity to recall their favourite sporting memories.
Other programmes include Numeracy Through Football, and Apps For Good Health which are both aimed at primary school children whilst the Run The Club Scheme will help teach those between the ages of 16 and 24 about what happens behind the scenes at these clubs.
In order to run these activities, the clubs have been provided with two full time and two part-time staff for the duration of these project.
And also speaking at this launch at the Cork International Hotel, Erika Ní Thuama (pictured above), who is now the Football Enterprise Coordinator at Cork City, admitted she is pleased with how things have progressed so far and is excited about the future.
“I’m absolutely delighted with it. It was a really good turnout but the best thing for me was the positive reaction everyone is giving to this more than a club project,” declared Ní Thuama, who has been volunteering at the club for almost 20 years.
“We had a lot of different people from different backgrounds here today and everyone is giving really positive feedback about how they can get involved and support us.
“We all know what Cork City FC is what they can do on the pitch and what they can do off the pitch. What this project is about really is about taking the football club and its standing in society in Cork city and county and about giving back to the community.
“It’s a way of including everybody across all communities within Cork and showing them that Football is a universal sport. So no matter how old you are or where you come from it doesn’t matter.
“For us coming in as FAI Staff and working with Cork City, the club have been so behind this that we have been made feel a part of the team the moment we walked in. The people can’t do enough to try and help us.
“Everyone can see here you had Paul Wycherley the General Manager, the Board of Management and John Caulfield. Everyone is getting behind us and supporting us and everyone is excited about it.”
The Lord Mayor of Cork Tony Fitzgerald has welcomed this new project and believes it will create a better atmosphere amongst the communities in the City and County.
“It’s not just about the success on the pitch, it’s about engaging with the communities and engaging in various programmes and I think this particular launch of more than a club is very fitting for Cork City FC because it is more than a club,” added Fitzgerald.
“It’s about community participation, it’s about engaging with spectators and communities and creating an atmosphere in our city and county that gives excitement to people.
“The plan for the New Year is going very well and I think this programme fits in very well with the life experience of young people that’s needed in our city and county.
“I commend the board of management and the chairman Pat Lyons. There is a great community spirit at the club.
"I commend the FAI, Donal [Conway] and my namesake Tony Fitzgerald [President of the FAI] and I commend Cork City for the launch of this programme and wish them every success.”