Over 1,000 kids to compete in Northern Community Gaelic Games
By John Harrington
Around 1,000 boys and girls will take part in the 2023 Northern Community Gaelic Games in Broughton Park, Manchester this weekend.
The biggest iteration yet of the annual event which is open to all GAA & LGFA clubs in the North of Britain it underlines the rude health of Gaelic games in cities like Manchester and Liverpool.
A schools competition takes place on Friday, May 26, with the clubs then competing the following day on Saturday.
“We have around 20 schools taking part on Friday which we’re very pleased with,” says Lancashire GAA vice-president and Northern Community Gaelic Games organiser, Sean Hopkins.
“We have a new Community Development Administrator in Lancashire, Ronan Walsh, who was appointed just five months ago but has already done great work growing the games at schools level.
“There are schools competing from Manchester, Liverpool, and some travelling down from Scotland as well.
“Many of the kids who will be involved this weekend would have no Irish ancestry at all and we saw that last year as well. The more schools we go into this trend will happen more and more as we spread Gaelic games more and more.
“The kids just seem to love it. They're just mad for it. I think that's because of the pace of it, the movement, and the touches involved. And with the Go Games they're all involved and there's no sitting on the sideline.
“The feedback I get from PE teachers through the schools is that the kids are just crazy for it. Now that we have a bit of momentum we believe that next year we can actually double the amount of schools that will take part in the Northern Games.
“We want people to know that there's a lot of great work being done overseas and I honestly believe we are building something really big and lasting here.”
Just like last year, the organisers of the Northern Community Gaelic Games hope to give all the children who take part a weekend to remember.
Food will be provided for all competitors, teams will come out onto the pitch to motivational music, and players’ names will be announced by Alan Keegan, the voice of Old Trafford.
It’s a huge event for the local Irish community, a fact that will once again be underlined by the attendance of Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham.
The number of kids playing Gaelic games in Britain is growing all the time, and Hopkins only sees that trend going from strength to strength in the coming years.
“There’s huge potential and it's all about getting the parents involved. At the moment we have a bit of excitement and momentum and lots of parents doing the safeguarding and coaching level 1 course.
“If you get more parents involved in the club structures then you're going to grow the games. There's definitely growth here in Manchester and everyone is working hard to link up with the work in the schools.
“The results of that will be seen on the pitch and we're really looking forward to this weekend.”