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North America Central Hurling Team pictured at the 2016 GAA World Games
North America Central Hurling Team pictured at the 2016 GAA World Games

The Twinning Clubs Initiative at the 2019 Renault GAA World Games


By Eoghan Tuohey

The 2019 Renault GAA World Games will have an added social & cultural dimension, as we celebrate worldwide Gaelic Games coming home this summer. The sporting aspect of these games is, of course, of primary concern, and every club from each of the 10 units from around the globe is coming to Waterford with the chief goal of qualifying for a final and take to the field at Croke Park on Friday, August 2nd. But this event is also a glorious opportunity to highlight the growth of GAA internationally, celebrate our shared values, build friendships and learn from one other.

We all share a love and passion for Gaelic Games, despite coming from diverse backgrounds. The GAA is rapidly increasing its footprint around the globe, no longer confined to Irish-born players. Over 60% of players this year are expected to be native-born, or not Irish born, for the first time ever.

Our games are Irish in their heritage, but many have bought into their ideologies and care just as much about them, want to facilitate their growth and nurture their development in their particular region. Gaelic Games are now a global phenomenon, and the purpose of this social and cultural event is to celebrate that growth.

It is envisaged that all, or as many as possible, Waterford GAA, LGFA & Camogie clubs will play their part and host a visiting native born team, or teams for an evening of socialising, learning, entertainment and celebration. With visiting team numbers almost fully confirmed, it is looking like there will be approximately 60 teams to be accommodated for a few hours on one evening during the week-long event. A key aspect of this is that every Waterford club will have the opportunity, and is actively encouraged, to put their own unique stamp on this event, and welcome the visitors in whatever way they feel best represents their area.

The objectives of this initiative are to add a social and cultural layer to a well established sporting festival as well as to align native-born teams with Waterford clubs, and in so doing create an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to form friendships through the lens of Gaelic Games.

It's also a fantastic opportunity for clubs to showcase their best selves, to encourage all members of the local community to get actively involved and show real pride in their local area. Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome. It's an occasion where we can all contribute, listen, learn and celebrate together.

It's sure to be a positive experience for the visiting clubs too - to see the infrastructure of how an Irish club works, to share in their hospitality and to network for mutually beneficial relationships going forward.

Waterford hurler Noel Connors, Dublin footballer Lyndsey Davey, Waterford camogie player Niamh Murphy and Westmeath footballer Boidu Sayeh pictured at the Waterford launch of the Renault GAA World Games 2019 at the WIT Arena.
Waterford hurler Noel Connors, Dublin footballer Lyndsey Davey, Waterford camogie player Niamh Murphy and Westmeath footballer Boidu Sayeh pictured at the Waterford launch of the Renault GAA World Games 2019 at the WIT Arena.

All interested Waterford clubs are asked to fill out the attached Twinning Clubs form and return it to worldgames@gaa.ie at their earliest convenience. Where Waterford clubs have a particular relationship already in existence with a visiting team, they are welcome to include their preference for twinning with that team, and the World Games team will do their best to endeavour that they be paired together. Clubs are asked to provide contact details for one member who will act as a point of contact, and fulfil the role of Social & Cultural Officer for the purpose of this event, to ensure it is run as smoothly as possible.

Interested clubs are also asked to point out some general details about their facilities or ideas about what they could do on the night in terms of social initiatives and whether the club would be in a position to provide transport to bring visiting teams to/from their accommodation in Waterford City.

A hugely positive meeting has already been held in Waterford with interested clubs, and another is planned for Thursday, May 23rd at 8pm in Dungarvan Golf Club. Interested clubs are asked to send a representative so that further details can be ironed out, queries answered, and a solidified plan of execution put in place (worldgames@gaa.ie). Details of this meeting will be circulated to all club secretaries in due course.

This is an opportunity not to be missed, a chance to show the best of club spirit that exists in Waterford, to unify communities, to create new relationships and to celebrate our combined GAA heritage. As always, further information is available through the aforementioned email addresses, or follow us across our social channels @GAAWorldGames.

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