World Games to showcase increase in Gaelic Games' Participation among Native Populations
By Eoghan Tuohey
This years' Renault GAA World Games is set to be revolutionary across many aspects. It will be the first time the event is held in Waterford, the previous games having taken place in Dublin in 2016, The numbers involved, including teams, players, volunteers, staff and spectators is also expected to rise significantly from the last tournament. But the most encouraging statistic is probably the revelation that the majority of players will be non-Irish born for the first time at a World Games event. It's an incredible testament to the people that initially set up GAA clubs in far-flung regions across the globe, and to the people who continue to nurture them and ensure their development, that this is the case. It's really encouraging to see Gaelic Games not only exist in pockets where Irish communities gather, but they are thriving, becoming popular with locals and becoming significant as sporting and recreational hubs and also places for social and community-based activities.
The Games will open with a parade through Waterford city on the evening of July 28th, in what is certain to be an incredible visual spectacle, with 100 clubs from 10 regions set to be represented. The diversity in competitors will add hugely to the event in terms of its cultural and social aspects, and will contribute handsomely to the already guaranteed action-packed fare on the pitch. Naturally, the return of hundreds of our Irish expats is something that we look forward to hugely, especially as this competition graces them with fulfilling a dream many have had since they were children, of taking to the field in a final in Croke Park. The combination of Irish players coming home to represent the regions where they now reside, coupled with local people coming to the birthplace of the games they have adopted as their own makes for a truly unique sporting event, and one that we are exceptionally looking forward to!