This is a pilot programme. The IRFU are delighted to be involved and to contribute to the promotion of sport as a whole within Ireland.
The first meeting took place in Cork last Friday and Saturday 18/19 February. Managers and coaches from the three major sports player here: Rugby, GAA and Soccer examined some of the issues and problems which are common to the three sports. Player participation and retention were major points for discussion as well as club development plans.
Sean Og O hAilpin of na Piarsaigh and Cork Senior Hurling Panel met the participants on Friday night. All participants visited na Piarsiagh hurling and football club grounds on Saturday morning.
The afternoon consisted of a facilitated workshop dealing the key skills in common between three sports. Passing, Evasion and Kicking. Mark McManus, former Munster Rugby fitness trainer and fitness trainer to a number of GAA and Soccer teams in the South facilitated the workshop in the Mardyke Arena.
Padraig Culbert of Clanwilliam RFC and a member of the Munster Branch IRFU working parties for the strategic review spoke on developing the game of rugby from grassroots level.
The project promoters believe that by using sport as the medium, this project will lead to increased mutual understanding and reconciliation both on and off the pitch which will benefit both participants and the wider community at large.
By the end of this project it is envisaged that a support structure for those involved in the community sports development will be established to help promote best practice guidelines and facilitate exchange of information.
Participants from Northern Ireland that travelled to the 2005 city of culture include coaches and administrators from Ballyclare rugby club, Youthsport Omagh, Tyrone Ladies GAA, Cooke Rugby Club, St Johns GAA, Inner East Belfast Youth Forum, Newhill and Highfield Soccer clubs from west Belfast and Ballhegan GAA Co. Down.
The Cork participants included, IRFU Rugby and Youth Development Officers, Na Piarsaigh GAA club and Lakewood Soccer club.