More Than A Club making impact in communities
That is the More Than A Club programme aims to do. Run by the FAI, in conjunction with Welsh social enterprise Vi-Ability, and funded by the European Regional Development Fund via the Ireland Wales Cooperation programme 2014-2020, the programme is currently being piloted at Bohemian FC and Cork City FC.
The two Premier Division clubs were successful in the application process and have since hired two staff members each to roll out the programme, which has been warmly received and is starting to make a real impact.
"We have five core programmes to run under the More Than A Club programme," explained Carina O'Brien, who is a Football Enterprise Coordinator with Bohemian FC.
"So we've Walking Football, we have a programme for people with early dementia and memory loss which is called Football Memories, Double Club which is a numeracy programme for third & fourth class primary school children, Run The Club is one that our partners, Vi-Ability in Wales, have been running as a programme and we plan on adapting it here to run for transition year students - it's everything about the football industry, everything that happens off the pitch, and another one called App for Mobile Health that is targeted at third & fourth class children to design an app."
Linking in with Bohemians has been vitally important to More Than A Club being able to prosper with facilities, equipment and support provided to O'Brien and her colleague Shane Fox.
"I have to say that the club have been fantastic and any help we want the manager Keith (Long) is brilliant. You contact them and ask would somebody like to do this and they are fantastic," said O'Brien.
Both Bohemians and Cork City already had a history of community-based initiatives but the More Than A Club programme ensures that they become regular events and that they are given the necessary support & promotion.