Wednesday 23 January 2019

US fundraising all part of GPA effort to help players achieve full potential

In the wake of criticism of prices charged for a Boston fundraiser, players' chief insists this money is needed for their key projects

Clare's Shane O'Donnell. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Clare's Shane O'Donnell. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Seamus Hickey

The fantastic news this week about Shane O'Donnell's Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard has made the whole GAA community rightly proud. One of our best and brightest on a hyper-accelerated path to reaching his full potential.

That's what we in the GPA are passionate about - supporting inter-county players to meet their full potential both on and off the field. The GPA's mantra that guides everything we do is "helping players to thrive on and off the field". People like Shane and hundreds more inter-county players like him in dressing rooms around the country reaching their full potential is what we're all about.

The GPA has over 2,200 passionate inter-county footballers and hurlers as members who we provide with a plethora of player-centred support programmes.

These programmes are in areas such as player development and coaching, health and welfare, education and training, business skills, leadership development and we have an injury and benevolent fund to look after our members when they fall on difficult times.

We have helped and continue to help thousands of inter-county players to invest in their own development and to help them be at their personal best.

The demands on players have never been greater and we're finding that the knock-on demand for our player support services is equally so. We want to grow our services to members to help them stay ahead of the game and to help them thrive on and off the field.

With this in mind, next month the GPA will host its second Boston Friends of the GPA fundraising dinner in Boston. It's part of our US fundraising programme that has previously included similar events in New York and the recent Fenway Super 11s Hurling Classic.

Our US fundraising programme is aimed at helping us to fund our player programmes and to raise awareness internationally of the huge contribution that inter-county footballers and hurlers make to the games.

We are hugely proud of our members and we want to give them every opportunity to showcase their incredible skills on the international stage - they deserve nothing less.

All profits from our US fundraising go directly to help fund our programmes which benefit both current and former players.

One of our most popular programmes for members that benefits from the US funding is the Jim Madden GPA Leadership Programme. It develops groups of county players from across hurling, camogie and football with the skills to become real leaders in the community and to help them think about the next steps in their career.

We have over 100 alumni of this programme who speak passionately about the difference it has made to them and we are determined to give hundreds more the opportunity to experience the same. We also part-fund our career service programmes for players though the monies raised in the US.

We provide players with useful career coaching including interview skills, professional development and business start-up advice and detailed career planning so that players have every chance to have a solid career while they play and after when they hang up their boots.

We have an obligation to provide on- and off-field support to players that we take very seriously and will proudly pursue fundraising activities to help us meet and exceed those obligations.

Next week in Boston, DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, will address those who gather for our fundraising dinner.

He sees massive synergies between the Gaelic Players Association and the NFL Players Association and we're excited to see the opportunities that this might present for our members in future.

WGPA representatives will also attend the event to promote their work on behalf of ladies footballers and camogie players. Keeping a US network engaged and interested in Gaelic games is something the GPA is proud to do.

Limerick hurler Seamus Hickey is the current GPA CEO

Irish Independent

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