Kevin Curran 'living the dream' as a GAA coach
By John Harington
After 20 years working in the recruitment industry, Kevin Curran got to a point in his life where he had enough and found himself asking the question, ‘what else can I do’?
It was around then he spotted an advertisement by Ulster GAA looking for coaches. Curran’s gut feeling was that this was just the opportunity he had been looking for.
He was back living in his native Armagh after 10 years in Dublin and had thrown himself into volunteering with what had become his local club, O’Connell’s GAC Tullysaran, as their youth officer and a coach with underage teams.
He quickly realised that coaching Gaelic Games to children was his passion, so to have the opportunity to now do it on a full-time basis as a coach with Ulster GAA is something he relishes.
“It is just a phenomenal job,” Curran told GAA.ie. “I'm living the dream in a lot of respects. I'm heading to work in a tracksuit top with a bag of gaelic footballs over my shoulder and just doing what I love which is basically coaching kids.
“It's very much a case of if you find something you love you'll never have to work again. It's just been phenomenal.
“I love coaching and have been coaching for the last 10 or 11 years in my club bringing teams through and getting them to Feile and things like that.
“So to coach kids as a job, I'm getting up on a Monday morning for work and Monday mornings don't feel like Monday mornings anymore if you know what I mean.”
Curran currently coaches over 750 children on a weekly basis in five primary schools in Armagh as part of Northern Ireland’s Department of Education (DENI) schools coaching programme.
The objectives of the sports school programme are to deliver Key Stage 2 Physical Education with is needs led and agreed with the school to raise the confidence, resilience, self-esteem, and motivation of all pupils; to support connected learning with other curricular areas; to provide professional development opportunities for teachers and other staff; and to provide support, information, and resources to schools in promoting young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
And by working hard to promote the game in primary schools, the hope is to encourage even more children to participate in gaelic games with their local club.
“This programme is integral to a child’s positive introduction to sport and physical activity and in providing much needed teacher support in delivering PE,” says Michael Glover, Ulster GAA’s KS2 programme coordinator.
“It lays the foundation for long term participation in sport and ensures a healthy mind and healthy body in the process.”
Curran has seen at first hand just how positive an impact the School Sports Programme funded by DENI is having on the ground.
“The kids are great to work with, especially at the moment because so much else has been taken from them by Covid-19,” he says.
“They're not getting out, they're not getting to see their friends, they're not getting to parties.
“So taking part in PE in a very health and safety conscious environment at the moment is really the only chance kids are having at the minute to move and be active and have fun which is really critical for their development.
“The smiles you see on faces when you go to the schools really does your heart good, to be honest.”