Uganda's first full-size GAA pitch
Fundraising for the development of the first full-size GAA pitch on the African continent is underway.
The pitch will be set on the GAA training grounds in Kampala, Uganda which will also be the highest altitude GAA pitch in the world, constructed on the banks of Lake Victoria.
A campaign is currently underway to raise funds for their newly-established GAA community in Kampala where Uganda GAA hope to benefit from the new pitch, a clubhouse and the funds will also help Uganda GAA to provide children with GAA equipment and meals after training.
The campaign, which is being driven by Newpark Hotel Kilkenny will sending two ambassadors to Uganda this March to give training sessions and engage in cultural exchange activities celebrating the positive relationship between Ireland and Uganda (sponsored by the hotel).
GAA training grounds in Kampala Uganda is aiming to go viral with a social media based GAA skills challenge.
The club’s long-term goal is to incorporate the great community spirit that runs through every GAA club, and to establish a sustainable Ugandan GAA Club that will nurture a love of Gaelic Games and provide a safe and healthy environment for thousands of Ugandan children long into the future.
A significant part of the clubhouse will be a kitchen where meals will be cooked for every training session, taking pressure from parents who struggle to meet school fees and putting food on the table by allowing their children time to be a child and have fun playing sports.
Ensuring the love from Kilkenny is felt all the way in Kampala, Newpark Hotel is sponsoring two ‘GAA ambassadors’ to make the international trip and give the Ugandan kids a training blitz ahead of St Patrick’s Day and to coincide with the All-Uganda GAA Championships taking place in this March.
The two ambassadors, former Kilkenny GAA All-Star Hurler and Dancing with the Stars legend Aidan Fogarty and GAA player and Assistant Manager at Newpark Hotel’s Escape Health Club, Sinéad Brennan, to go to Uganda.
Promoting gender equality is a cornerstone of the Uganda’s GAA club, and having Sinead lead several training sessions, will instill confidence in the young girls that are still too shy to train with the boys.
Speaking to Beat 102 103, Sinéad says says she's very focused on her trip to Uganda:
Kilkenny hurler Aidan Fogarty also spoke to Beat and he tells us how it the ball started rolling in Uganda:
What is the #K2KGAAChallenge?
"The #K2KGAAChallenge is the GAA skills version of the Ice Bucket Challenge and we want clubs and schools all over the country to get involved," explains Paul Beehan, General Manager of the 4-star Newpark Hotel.
The aim of the challenge is to for people to video their GAA skills while tagging others online to do the same, those people will then go on to post their own skills in a video and tag more people. However, if you're tagged then it's common practice to donate to the campaign (if you're in a position to do so).
The fundraiser hopes to use the power of social media to reach their fundraising target but also hopes it will create a collection of GAA skills video that can be shared with the kids in Kampala to help their training and to inspire them to learn new skills. The videos will make a genuine heartfelt connection between Ireland and Uganda.
The Newpark Hotel Kilkenny to Kampala fundraiser aims to raise at least €20,000 to ensure that Uganda GAA can continue to provide GAA equipment and dinner for each child after training, with proceeds also going towards securing final payment for 3 acres of land for a GAA training pitch and clubhouse on the outskirts of Kampala.
Why Uganda, why Kampala?
Paul Beehan, General Manager of Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny explained why they got involved; "We were inspired by the story of a group of youngsters living in Wakiso, near Kampala in Uganda, who had stumbled on the Irish national sports of hurling and Gaelic football through YouTube and TikTok videos and started to copy what they had seen.
"The passion these Ugandan children have for playing GAA is wonderful to see, but most are playing in flip-flops as they can’t afford football boots. How can you not get behind something like that and help these children out where possible. I was shocked to discover that the average yearly salary Uganda is €815, approximately the cost of 15 hurls, so proper GAA equipment is out of their reach. That’s why every euro raised will make a real difference.
"The joy that these kids have found in Gaelic Games really struck a chord with us at Newpark Hotel, and we want to do what we can to ensure that they have what they need to continue playing."
Anyone who wants to get involved is encouraged showcase their GAA skills in a short video clip online nominate 3 people to undertake the challenge & tagging @NewparkHotel and using the hashtag. #K2KGAAChallenge