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  • Northside West

Soccer project counts on success

Thursday, 23rd May, 2019 1:00pm
Soccer project counts  on success

Alex Butler Quinn of St Finbarr’s BNS, Cabra and his pals at the Bohemains FC More Than A Club certificate presentation. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Soccer project counts  on success

Alex Butler Quinn of St Finbarr’s BNS, Cabra and his pals at the Bohemains FC More Than A Club certificate presentation. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

ALMOST 100 pupils from four Northside schools were recently presented with certificates at the Mansion House for completing a unique programme that uses soccer to teach numeracy.

The 12-week Double Club Initiative was run by the Bohemian More Than A Club project, a partnership between Bohemian FC and the FAI that promotes social inclusion.

Bohs manager Keith Long along with players Darragh Leahy, Rob Cornwall and Scott Allardice were on hand to present the 96 pupils with their certificates, with comedian and born-again Bohs fan PJ Gallagher acting as MC for the event hosted by Dublin Lord Mayor, Nial Ring.

The Double Club programme combines a maths class for 45 minutes with physical activity for pupils from St Laurence O'Toole’s in Seville Place, St Gabriel's in Arbour Hill, St Catherine's in Cabra and St Finbarr's in Cabra.

The Bohemian More Than A Club team, led by Carina O'Brien and supported by Shane Fox and Paul Gannon, have run nine Double Club programmes so far and engaged with over 160 children in the past 12 months in doing so. 

"We use football creatively to engage the students,” explained O'Brien.

“The maths lessons and book we produced are all designed around football and, more importantly, Bohemians!

"Each lesson has a tip from Bohs manager Keith Long so we promote the players, members and volunteers of the club, the people in the shop, the groundsman.

“For example, we use concepts like the club shop - trade price, cost price, stock etc, how many scarves you can buy for your €20.

"We have all the squad in the book. What we find is that if you bring a player in on week one, the pupils might not know him, so the connection might not be there.

"We leave it until week five to bring them in. By that stage, through our lessons and book, they have learnt about the players involved.

“The characters come to life then when you bring the players in! The kids have loads of questions and they are really engaged.

"We've brought them in on school trips to Dalymount too so they get to see a working club and stadium as part of the programme. That's important and when they come to games on a Friday night, they see their heroes - local heroes and role models for them. That's what we want. 

"The girls’ school never had football in it and they love it. We want to come back in September with them because they loved it.

“We have young girls now asking how do they join the club. They're bringing their parents down. We see many of them quite regularly up in Dalymount on Friday nights now, which is very rewarding."

The efforts by the More Than a Team staff are supported and appreciated by all at the club, including first-team manager Long.

"It's fantastic,” he said. “Bohemians is a club that is really embedded in its community and invested in its young people.

"Hopefully we can have supporters and players - boys and girls - from these schools for years to come. Our players visiting the schools feel rewarded by doing so, they get a lot  out of it.

"They get even more out of it then when they see those same kids come to Dalymount on a Friday night."

MC PJ Gallagher said it was great to have so many young people involved in the project.

“Real enthusiasm seems to be growing and growing at Bohs,” he added.

"Bohs have that appeal. They can reach out. People can identify themselves in Bohemians. You turn up at Bohs and you can see yourself in it, you can see the community represented in it."

Lord Mayor Niall Ring also described the Double Club Initiative as “absolutely fantastic”.

“For the kids to commit to 12 weeks to this course is brilliant,” he said. “Bohs have reached out to its community. When I get to Phibsborough I see how much they are doing in the local area and in the local schools."

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here