The men in the Donagh area in County Fermanagh have used an initiative by a GAA club in the area to get people to play non-competitive sport.
The GFC St Patrick’s Club in the village runs the ‘Dads and Lads’ program within the club, which allows older men and those who do not wish to play Gaelic football competitively to go out and play football. exercise while socializing with other members.
Other “Dads and Lads” teams are emerging across Northern Ireland, but the Donagh club were one of the first in the country to introduce the program.
Club president Ciaran McMahon, who is also on the squad, said it was another way for the men to get involved with the club and their local community.
“We were setting up ‘Mothers and the like’ for the first time, and we thought there was nothing like that for guys,” Ciaran told MyFermanagh.
“Having finished playing competitively myself a few years ago, I always thought I would like to go out and kick a ball and there was no way I could do it at a leisurely level.
“The current senior level was way beyond what I was able to do at this stage of life. So we just said that if it can work for women, it can work for men.
“We run it for about six to eight weeks per program and we run two programs per year.
“It’s a pretty large group of people coming there, probably more than I expected. I thought it was mostly guys my age playing, but it’s a very different kind of audience from different backgrounds.
“There were a lot of guys who maybe played when they were younger but quit after a while and then missed the social side.
“There are other guys out there who couldn’t play competitive football for medical reasons, but they can play at that level because it’s just a kick really.”
The addition of the program has helped local fathers and men get involved with the club when they may not have done so in the past, Ciaran added.
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“We definitely think this has added to us as a club and gives us something that creates opportunities for people to get involved at all levels.
“Part of the belief that led us to create this was that if our club is important to parents, parents will make the club important to children, and over time we will benefit from that.
“We want to do our best to make the club important in people’s lives and relevant to people and for a number of years we maybe didn’t focus on these things.
“A lot of Dads and Lads players are now involved or more active in coaching youngsters at the club and that has certainly had a ripple effect as well.”