AT THE Olympic Games in Rio this summer, Ireland will have a hockey team competing for the first time since 1908.
However, although on the rise, hockey is far from an elite sport in Ireland – who have not been represented in any team sport at the Olympics in 60 years – and as such the 'Green Machine' are struggling to make ends meet.
The large majority of the 27-man squad are amateur players trying to balance a professional level of competition with work or studies – and the strain is beginning to take its toll.
Two players – Jonny Bruton and Stephen Dowds – have already given up their dream of playing at the Olympics as they are unable to commit to the level of preparation required without subsidies.
Hockey Ireland estimate a shortfall of €225,000 in their financial requirements to complete their preparation for Rio sufficiently, and they have devised a number of ways the public and businesses can help their cause:
€18+ - Buy official merchandise
Peak caps, baseball tops, jumpers and t-shirts are all available at a range of budget prices on Hockey Ireland's official website.
€25 – Help fund nutrition
Over 50 donations of €25 have been made, which covers the cost of meals for one member of the squad for one day while they're at training camp
€50 – Help fund physiotherapy
Half a day's work from a physiotherapist can be covered for €50 in the 'Green Machine' training camp
€75 – Help fund accommodation
The cost of accommodation for one night for one member of the squad can be covered with a €75 donation. This will be utilised for an away match or when Irish players return to their country from European clubs for training.
€100 – Buy a signed team photo
By far the most popular option by far, a squad photo signed by the entire team can be obtained for €100.
€750 – Limited edition print
Just 25 framed prints of award-winning photographer Morgan Treacy are available for those of us with a little extra in our wallet. Signed by the entire team and the photographer.
€2,500 – Signed limited edition Team Ireland jersey
Just 10 are available of this framed and signed official jersey of the Irish hockey team who will compete at Rio.
€6,000 – Title sponsorship of match series
Korea, Canada and the Netherlands visit Ireland between May and July and sponsorship opportunities for businesses are available. Contact Hockey Ireland Marketing Manager Alex Sherwood on [email protected] for further details.