SEVERAL local English businesses have helped finance the birth of a new GAA club in the Woodley area of Berkshire.
Setanta GFC, who will specialise in youth development with no minor or senior team, has been up and running for a number of weeks.
However, the project may not have seen the light of day had it not been for a number of businesses who have been all too willing to contribute, despite little or no Irish background.
Dubliner Derek Gannon, one of several parents behind Setanta’s incarnation, has been overwhelmed by the support from the community.
“We’ve had a huge amount of local support from normal English businesses – it’s been incredible,” he told The Irish Post.
“I contacted 10 local businesses and told them about what the club were doing, and eight or nine of them said ‘yes, what a great idea’. They’ve helped us pay for goalposts so the kids can train properly, and also for kits and balls.
“The staggering thing is that these are all English businesses. Within Wokingham we don’t have a massive Irish community like you get in London, so we’re relying on the generosity and goodwill of established English companies.
“They’re all putting their hands in their pockets and helping out these young boys and girls.”
The generosity stretches further afield than England though, as Derek went on to reveal.
He added: “There’s a very nice local bar and restaurant called Boscos. I went in and asked to speak to the manager and a guy called Ricardo came out.
“I asked Ricardo, who is from Portugal, ‘what do you know about Gaelic football?’ and to my surprise he said ‘I know everything about Gaelic football!’
“Turns out his father, who is also Portuguese, was a fanatic, so he watched it on television as a boy. There’s been a few bizarre instances along the way to establishing this.”
For Setanta, the focus is youth, but the committee hope to develop their original crop into their teens and beyond, with the plan to one day compete as a senior team.
“As a club, we have made a conscious decision to only look for young kids for under the ages of eight and six,” said Derek, whose local club in Dublin was St.Olaf's Balally.
“We’re also working closely with the council – which is the Woking Borough Council – to hopefully introduce Gaelic football to P.E. lessons for local primary schools, but that might have to wait until September 2016.”
Companies involved in financing Setanta GFC:
- Hicks Developments Ltd
- TradeMark Windows
- Stewarts Coaches Ltd
- WhiteKnights Estate Agents
- Bosco Lounge
- Storage King
- Jungle Mania