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  • Southside

Rugby club with no pitch scores major National Lottery funding

Sunday, 26th November, 2017 2:00pm
Rugby club with no pitch scores major National Lottery funding

Players from Liberty Saints Rugby Club based in the Liberties in Dublin’s inner city.

Rugby club with no pitch scores major National Lottery funding

Players from Liberty Saints Rugby Club based in the Liberties in Dublin’s inner city.

SOCCER and rugby clubs all over Ireland scored more than €5 million in National Lottery Good Cause funding last year, it has been revealed.

The funding was announced ahead of ‘Super Sports’ Saturday when the Irish rugby team played South Africa in the International Series and before the football team’s first outing against Denmark in the World Cup qualifier clash.

The National Lottery said the soccer and rugby national governing bodies received over €5 million in vital funding for their youth development programmes in 2016.

Distributed through Sport Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) received €2.7 million in funding, while the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) granted €2.36 million. 

Included in the figures is an investment for the Women in Sport programme of €142,000 for football and €114,000 for rugby. Apart from football and rugby the total amount of Good Cause funding last year was over €45 million, benefitting 895 community sports projects.

One of the beneficiaries was the Liberty Saints Rugby Football Club in Dublin 8.

Liberty Saints is a rugby club unlike any other, and not just because it doesn’t have a pitch.

Based in the heart of the Liberties in Dublin 8, it provides rugby and a sense of belonging to potentially vulnerable youths in an area with a population of 55,000, 10 primary schools and no playing fields.

The club, which began life as an after-school project in 2008, is a hugely positive intervention in the lives of boys in their early to mid-teens.

The club’s coaches act as role models and help their players to steer a path through the difficult terrain of their youth. 

In 2014, the club received €8,000 for essential training gear and, critically, somewhere to store it.

“We bought a 20-foot container,” Liberty Saints president Tom Magee said.

“As we don’t have a training ground, whatever we got we had to secure.”

The container is stored where the players train – on a patch of land about the size of a couple of tennis courts at St James’s Primary School in Dublin 8.

Magee did not follow an orthodox path into rugby. He took the game up at the age of 26 and ended up on the Leinster squad at 29.

Some Saints players now have equally impressive stories to tell.

“Blackrock College have taken two on scholarships and Terenure have taken four,” Magee revealed.

The club, according to Magee, has ambitions that go far beyond the field of play.

“The aim is to rejuvenate the community of Dublin 8 through rugby.”

And, bit by bit, that inspiring ambition appears to be working.

“We put rugby in front of these guys who had no outlets.

“They were like coiled springs all day long. Parents, teachers even the guards got in touch commenting on how much these guys had come on,” he said.

 Dermot Griffin, CEO of the National Lottery, said Ireland is a great sporting nation.

“And the National Lottery is proud that its Good Causes fund is helping the development of all sport disciplines, including rugby and soccer.

“We hope that the investment in these sports will help create the next generation of Ireland’s soccer and rugby heroes.

As well as contributing to the development of the sports, funding is also helping improve the lifestyles of our young people, making us a healthier and happier nation.” 

Approximately 30 cent in every €1 spent on National Lottery games go back to Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage.

In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised €213 million for such Good Causes.

In total, more than €5 billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago.


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