Prosper Fingal Blitz hits heights for third year
The event ran well and is part of an FAI/Fingal County Council Football For All plan for the area. Each centre now has links to their local Grassroots club - Skerries Town FC, Swords Celtic FC, Balbriggan FC and Rush Athletic FC, and with St Michael's House linking in with League of Ireland side Shelbourne. Approximately 70 players participated and have been training on a weekly basis for these events.
The event's main organisers, Ann Murray and John Gallagher, who are both active volunteer inclusion officers working in conjunction with FAI/FCC Development Officers Paul Keogh, Jamie Wilson and Sharon Boyle, were the drivers of the initiative with great support from the local clubs and Prosper key workers.
Commenting on the event Anne Murray said: “This is a culmination of months of hard work by the players in training and the dedication of the mentors and support from Prosper. The links with the clubs has been extremely valuable and the offer of using facilities has been second to none, thanks to Swords Celtic for the use of their pitches and as always overwhelmed by the welcome and standard of the club. A big thank you to the FAI Development Officers, Paul, Jamie and Sharon for their continued support which is appreciated by all. And same goes to Jason McGuinness and Paul Doody assisting to provide the students of the Shelbourne FC education programme to help referee and assist the players.”
Finian McGrath, Inclusion officer of Shelbourne, was instrumental in bringing players of all abilities to the pitches in the last number of months creating a progressive programme for inclusion within Shelbourne. He states: “It was an amazing day of football and fun for everyone. Football for All shows a person's ability and lifts their self-esteem. We all need to work together to develop this vision and plan at a local and national level. Shelbourne FC is a major part of this strategy, I thank everyone for their dedication and hard work.”
Paddy O’Reilly, FAI Programme Coordinator Football For All, commented: “It was brilliant to see the number of players with a disability who are being engaged by this programme. It shows the great work that is being done by the volunteers, Clubs, Disability Services and FAI Staff in the Fingal Area. Hopefully this is something that can grow in the future with more regular Blitz Days for the players to showcase their talent.”
Jamie Wilson, FAI/FCC Development Officer, added: “Another fantastic day that follows on from the previous day in Balbriggan. The support from everyone made the event and the games were played in a great spirit. Congratulations to Prosper Rush/Rush Athletic for winning the event but the true winners were the players despite the ever-changing weather. You can see all the teams are fast becoming friends and these events enables them to catch up and play football. Thanks to all the prosper staff and organisers Ann and John for their hard work, the Shelbourne FC DLETB staff and course students for their brave hand at refereeing and finally a thanks to Swords Celtic FC letting us use their fantastic facilities for the day.”
Nuala Casey, who was recently appointed by Fingal County Council as a Sports Development officer, attended her first Prosper Fingal Blitz and was impressed with the players, staff and organisation of the event. “It was great to attend my first inclusive football blitz in Fingal. Thankfully the weather held off and there was a great buzz as so many athletes got the opportunity to take part. The two pitches were very competitive with plenty of goals being scored and saved by all teams. I really look forward to supporting this initiative as it grows and develops in Fingal with the support of the FAI.”
Rebecca Howard from Prosper Fingal in Rush, who will be celebrating their first anniversary this week, said: “The Blitz from start to finish was brilliant and the team for the past year have hugely developed physically, mentally and socially. The excitement that weekly training sessions and matches bring thec lives of the players is unmeasurable. To see teams partnering with their local clubs sends a strong message that we consider to be core values, ability and inclusion. We would like to thank Ann and John and Rush Athletic FC for their time and support, Swords Celtic for hosting us for the day and local FAI Development Officers Paul, Jamie and Sharon for always being there for the players and their continued support.”
Sports Coordinator from St Micheal's, Dylan Casey, added: “Thanks so much to Shelbourne FC for supporting our gang. The feedback from the players have been fantastic, they are still chatting about the matches and medals they achieved and already asking when the next blitz is on.”