Etihad Airways GAA World Games launched
More than 1,700 Gaelic footballers, hurlers and camogie players from 10 regions around the globe are bringing Gaelic games home to Ireland for the 2016 Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Dublin this August.
A total of 87 teams from 20 countries will travel to Dublin for a week-long festival of Gaelic games activity between August 7 and 14 at UCD’s Belfield campus, with the finals being played at Croke Park.
Teams from as far away as Australia, South Africa, and Argentina will be present, as well as teams from China, Canada, the Middle East, the US, Europe, and Britain. It is expected that as many as 7,000 people will be involved in the Etihad Airways GAA World Games festival in Dublin between players, team officials, administrators, families and supporters.
The GAA will host the visiting teams in a grand opening ceremony at Croke Park before the All Ireland senior hurling semi-final on August 7, an event that will have a massive TV audience through RTE, Sky, and GAAGo.
More than 500 games will be played over the course of the week-long festival.
The visiting teams will also take part in a major cultural heritage night and concert at the Helix Theatre in DCU and a dedicated coaching forum before a closing ceremony at Croke Park at the end of the week.
Aogán Ó Fearghail, Uachtarán CLG, said: “The success of last year’s Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Abu Dhabi is still fresh in the memory and everyone involved in the GAA is very eager to see that we continue to develop this exciting initiative.
“In the years immediately after the formation of the GAA in 1884, Michael Cusack described the growth and expansion of Gaelic games activity as “being like a prairie fire.” This event will showcase the extent to which the passion and participation for Gaelic games has now spread far beyond our shores and will acknowledge the keepers of this flame.
“It is an event that simply would not be possible without the support and commitment of Etihad Airways which has played an integral part in making the dream of a GAA World Games become a reality.
“It is also important to recognise the support of Tony Towell and all in O’Neill’s for ensuring that every team that competes here in August will really look the part.”
Beatrice Cosgrove, General Manager for Ireland at Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways is delighted to be a part of the continuing success story that is the GAA World Games. Through the Etihad Partners’ expansive network of routes we are constantly reminded of the global reach of the Irish dias-pora and of the integral part that the GAA and Gaelic Games play in the lives of the Irish communities overseas.
“Just as our sponsorship of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland championship is a chance for us to be part of something special, we are excited that the GAA World Games is a competition that will grow and has the potential to be an integral part of the GAA calendar.”
The scale of the 2016 Etihad Airways GAA World Games represents a tripling in size of the inaugural GAA World Games which was hosted by Etihad Airways and successfully staged in Abu Dhabi last summer.
It is planned to twin each of the visiting teams with a host club from Dublin, Kildare, and Meath which will enable them to forge new links with Ireland and also gain expert coaching while they are here. It will also increase their support base.
This event is being held in Dublin this August to highlight the phenomenal global expansion of GAA clubs overseas with more than 400 GAA clubs now in existence outside of Ireland.
From Abu Dhabi to Zambia, the games that are played in every corner of Ireland are now being played in every corner of the world. It means that the GAA now has an active world-wide club presence from Montreal to Madrid, Mullingar to Moscow and Melbourne.
A key feature of the 2016 World Games event will be that the growing number of new GAA clubs made up of non-native Irish people who have discovered Gaelic games and have made it their sport of choice.
Among others, this diversity will be evidence by a native Chinese ladies football team and a native South African men’s football team who have confirmed that they will travel to take part.
The GAA will support the event with a major publicity campaign, as well as providing an army of volunteers who will help run the event over 10 pitches out in Belfield.
The finals will then be played at Croke Park on August 11 in football, ladies football, hurling, and camogie with eight finals covering the four codes and with a decider for Irish born and also non-Irish competing teams.