Provincial Council of Britain chairperson Noel O'Sullivan.
Provincial Council of Britain chairperson Noel O'Sullivan.

Britain GAA launches training programme for coaches and volunteers

By Cian O’Connell

A comprehensive coach education and volunteer training programme for Britain GAA commences this weekend.

Stephen Lavery, head of games development and operations, with Britain GAA has worked alongside the counties and coaches involved. “We officially launched the programme at our Provincial Council meeting on September 2 in Leeds, after months of consulting with each county,” Lavery says.

“We are extremely excited to get started this weekend with courses and coaching workshops in London and Hertfordshire. We have no doubt this programme will be of huge benefit to all counties and clubs across all codes in Britain.”

Various seminars and events will take place during the coming months including introduction to Gaelic Games courses, nursery workshops, level one youth/adult award, online and face to face officer training, safeguarding and protecting children courses, and foundation level referee courses.

Lavery is encouraged by the manner in which the various stakeholders have contributed to the programme. “Thanks to all our counties, and CDAs, for their input to the programme over the last number of months,” Lavery adds.

“We would like to express our gratitude to our twinning partner Ulster GAA for their support designing this training programme. We have also received great support from Martin Kennedy, and his team, as well as Charlie Harrison.”

Noel O’Sullivan, Provincial Council of Britain chairperson, is delighted with the response.

“I think that we have been doing a lot of this in the past in bits and pieces, what we have done now, particularly what Stephen has done, is brought it all together setting out a programme that will run with all of the clubs and counties in Britain,” O’Sullivan says.

“It will bring things forward an awful lot, it is the first time we are doing it this way and it is an absolutely fantastic document and programme. We are getting great support from the Ulster Council which is massive from our point of view.

“We are twinned with them and I couldn't say enough about them, how lucky we are to be twinned with them because the support we get is unbelievable. All the counties are going to buy into this, it is something that is really going to progress the games in Britain in the future.”

A collaborative approach with clubs, counties, and coaches has served the planning process well according to O’Sullivan.

“They have all been brought on board together,” he replies. “From the council point of view we would have great input into what the CDAs do in the counties, but it is most important that the counties where the CDA is working, that they have an input. Nobody knows the county, the strengths of the county, more than the county themselves. I think this is great for everyone to buy into it. The courses that are being done have been put together very well.”

The increasing number of homegrown players, who are beginning to feature at adult level is a source of optimism for O’Sullivan.

“London led in a way over the past 12 months when they put a junior team into the All-Ireland Junior Championship of homegrown players only,” O’Sullivan says.

“I think that is a great way forward. These players coming through, who are homegrown starting off at seven or eight years of age, that they reach the point of representing their county. It is great for them, they have something to look forward to, they can aim for that.

“Warwickshire had eight or nine homegrown players, that is something for the future, it is great. These players will buy into it.

“I was in Abbotstown when London played, quite a lot of the families came with the players on holiday. Brothers and sisters came to watch, you could see the enthusiasm in these young people that one day they could play for their county. I think that is a great way forward.”

Ensuring a solid and sustainable games programme is provided matters deeply to O’Sullivan. “There are more opportunities, you have better programmes for them,” he says. “The counties are working together, the CDAs are working together - that is so important.”