Sarsfields GAA DEYLI participants and facilitators.
Sarsfields GAA DEYLI participants and facilitators.

Sarsfields' DEYLI success story

By Cian O'Connell

It has been a rich and rewarding spell for those involved with the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative (DEYLI) in Sarsfields GAA club in Newbridge.

Keith Barrett, Healthy Clubs officer with Sarsfields, is delighted how the programme has been rolled out during the past year.

“We are part of the Healthy Clubs programme, we have numerous initiatives in the club,” Barrett explains about how Sarsfields were ready, willing, and able to embrace a new project.

“We have our GAA All-Stars for children with additional needs, so we have quite a lot going on. We recently installed a walking track which benefits all of our members.”

One gap, though, existed according to Barrett. “What we were missing was something specifically for teenagers that wasn't camogie, hurling or football related,” he adds. “So the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership was one of the things I saw when we joined the Healthy Clubs. It fitted perfectly into the club for us.

“Basically we ran it for the first time. Prior to that it was run at county level, our club facilities were used, but we never ran it as a club. It does take a fair commitment. We run it in line with the academic calendar. We started last October with the 10 participants.”

Participants during a module two presentation.
Participants during a module two presentation.

That the course features a combination of players and those with a connection to the club adds to the sense of satisfaction.

“The majority of them are players, who play multiple sports, not only GAA,” he responds. “We have a number of others in their mid to late teenage years who would have played when they were younger, but they aren't playing now.

“What it has done is that those players are now involved in other committees. Even when we put in a walking track in the last few weeks those individuals have become more active in the club. Not everyone needs to be a player, you can participate, assist, and deliver projects and initiatives in the club.

“You don't have to be playing, so it is interesting to see a few who aren't players, but their parents are involved in the club, they benefited hugely from the initiative. Now they have continued, even though they have finished projects, they have continued their support and activities within the club.”

The DEYLI enabled the participants to engage with various aspects of Sarsfields. “When we went on to module three the projects that they choose benefited the club and the community,” Barrett states.

“Some of the projects they did were fundraisers for the All-Stars to buy the children jerseys. We had mental health talks, we had a mental health walk on the Curragh Plains with another participant.

“This month one of them is doing an underage referee workshop, he is bringing in referees to talk about little tips for working on how to manage it on the pitch.

Sarsfields GAA DEYLI participants.
Sarsfields GAA DEYLI participants.

“We have a person coming in to talk to them about resilience training in relation how to handle loud parents and coaches, who think they are in Croke Park on All-Ireland day on the sideline.

“We have nutritionists and we will get a guy in about fitness. So the projects that they have taken on have benefited the club also.”

All of the planning and plotting is worthwhile. “It is a big commitment for any club to take on,” Barrett says. “We started last October, but our training was done with Foróige in September. It is a commitment from the facilitators.

“So for us as facilitators to watch the participants develop is great. When we started in October they barely knew each other, but by the end of module two in March or April they had all developed friendships.

“To see their confidence and decision making, even in the debates they have the confidence to defend their ideas. It has been brilliant.”

Every Tuesday evening the facilitators and participants gathered at Sarsfields clubhouse. It has been a pleasant journey for Barrett.

“The reward for the participants is excellent, to watch them develop, it is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, particularly at their age. They are in school so it will feed into their projects in school, so it will feed into exam results and how they deliver presentations and projects in school.

Teamwork is key in the DEYLI.
Teamwork is key in the DEYLI.

“The feedback from the parents was excellent, most of them at home were more confident, even the way they conduct themselves amongst their friends and family members. Everyone has commented positively on how it has benefited all of their children.

“For any club that was considering it, the way Foróige and the GAA have it set up, the whole thing is set up for success. It starts with the online training for the facilitators. That helps with how to deliver the lessons, what is involved, the grading system.

“The support throughout it, the online resources are excellent and the workbooks provided by Foróige for both the facilitators and participants are excellent. Everything is provided for you. After that there is continuous online support.

Now Sarsfields are getting ready for the next batch of students. Ensuring the DEYLI runs smoothly each year is the mission Barrett hopes to accomplish.

“You can't go into it thinking it is going to be a walk in the park, but it is set up for success,” he says. “There is a huge commitment from the club, facilitators, the participants, and also from the parents. A lot of the participants are playing multiple sports, there is a requirement to attend 13 of the 15 lessons in each module.

“There is a commitment, but it is set up for success and I would recommend it to any club. There are enough clubs who have done it, so for any club that hasn't there is plenty of advice available. If any club asked me, I would give them the full brief on how we rolled it out. We will roll it out again this year. The facilitator training is on now, we are currently advertising for facilitators.

“After that we will advertise for participants and our aim is to start it again in October. That is our plan so we can deliver it annually. We want to deliver it every year.”

For further queries about the DEYLI contact