Garden County Academy aiming to challenge for Leinster Minor title
OVER the last 12 months a special committee have been working with the Wicklow County Board in an effort to improve the standard of Gaelic Football in the County.
This group is focusing on players from 13 to 18 years of age and has targeted Wicklow's Development Squads and Post-Primary Schools.
Central to these plans are getting more coaches involved, delivering a consistent and professional approach for all teams, and monitoring performance of both players and coaches with a constant emphasis on player and coach development.
The result of this work is a five-year-plan with the target of preparing a group of Wicklow players who can realistically and consistently challenge for Minor Leinster titles by the end of the plan.
Garden County Academy
This new initiative will run in conjunction with the opening of the new Centre of Excellence at Ballinakill and has the target of making Wicklow GAA one of the leaders in juvenile player development nationally. This new underage structure has been totally rebranded and squads will now be known as 'The Garden County Academy'.
The Academy will include: A three-fold increase in the number of players on Development Squads to 250 with the number of squads increased from three to nine; An under-13 squad for the first time which will give every under-13 boy who wants to play Gaelic football for Wicklow the opportunity to join the Development Squad; A best in class approach to Child Welfare requirements, Garda Vetting and Codes of Ethics; A renewed effort to develop strong relationship with Clubs and Schools across the county
There will also be an increased effort to publicise underage Wicklow GAA, with a new website and social media presence.
This is the beginning of a truly exciting new era for the GAA in Wicklow and the GCA are delighted to have some of Wicklow's leading coaches, including current and former county players involved.
In addition to over forty new volunteer coaches who are committed to coaching in 2014, this initiative will require considerable funding.
To fund this ambitious five-year programme, the Garden County Academy are launching a new fundraising initiative called 'Team Wicklow', which aims to recruit members who will commit to making a contribution to the Wicklow GAA cause over the next five years.
In this the 130th year of the GAA Team Wicklow are looking for a group of committed Wicklow GAA people to donate €130 per year (just over €10 per month) with all funds going towards the preparation of Wicklow juvenile football teams.
In exchange for their support, members will receive - The knowledge that Wicklow juvenile football teams are receiving the highest standard of coaching and preparation in the country; An exclusive Team Wicklow members jacket; Invitation to an annual members event where they will have the opportunity to see first-hand the work going into our juvenile football programme; An annual report detailing how their money is being invested in the county stars of tomorrow with monthly updates throughout the year
A team of Team Wicklow 'Ambassadors' will be approaching people over the county in the coming weeks to ask for their support with an initial target of recruiting 130 members by the end of April - anyone who wishes to make their contribution or assist in fundraising efforts can contact Joe O'Brien on 087 firstname.lastname@example.org, Niall O'Brien on 087 email@example.com, Rob Walsh on 087 firstname.lastname@example.org or Gerry Grehan on 086 email@example.com .
Hopefully the county can enjoy a change of fortunes in years to come.