Ardglass GAC strengthen bonds with Ghanaian fishermen
By John Harrington
Back in August, Ardglass GAC in Down opened their doors to a group of Ghanaian fishermen living and working in the town for the past year by inviting them down to the club and showing them how to play Gaelic Football.
Since then the bonds of a new friendship have strengthened considerably and now playing Gaelic football has become a weekly event for the Ghanaians.
“We've been training with every week and then we had our first full match on Saturday,” says Ardglass GAC secretary, Ruth Curran. “We had social football on Saturday afternoon.
“Everyone really enjoyed it. We had mixed teams so we had some current players from the club and a few Down Masters came down as well. So we mixed the teams up, put two separate jersies on them, and away they went.
“The craic was good because the guy who was coaching the Ghanaians also played so they were trying to wind him up and tackle him.”
Some of the Ghanaians have taken so naturally to the sport that they hope to be able to don the club jersey next year and do their new community proud.
“They're all really improving and they're all really enjoying it,” says Curran.
“There are four or five of them in particular who are mad keen to start training with the seniors.
“They're asking for footballs so they can go out to the pitch by themselves to practice. They're saying they want to make the club proud and it's great to see how much they've bought into the community aspect of it.
“A few of the Down Masters were very impressed with their standard. Their pace, the way they can catch the ball, and rattle the ball into the back of the net.
“They were like, 'Oh my God, they're doing incredibly well for guys who have only been playing the game for a month or two'. So I'd say they won't be long getting up to scratch.”
The power of inclusivity displayed by the blossoming relationship between Ardglass GAC and their Ghanaian players has really struck a chord far and wide.
“We actually had a TV crew out with us on Saturday,” says Curran. “They're doing a feature for an ITV show so it will be shown nationally across the UK.
“Then the project that we're doing with the charity Beyond Skin, one of the guys with them is a film-maker and wants to film a few stories around Ardglass so that will be nice too.”