Curley hopes supporters will take the pledge to fund his season
GOLFER Cian Curley is one of nine young Irish professional athletes given the opportunity to become true 'people's champions' by a new fundraising scheme.
Former Irish amateur international and East of Ireland champion Curley (28) is trying to carve out a career for himself on the world's top professional tours. It's an expensive business, as many of his peers will attest.
With the cost of playing on development circuits like the EuroPro Tour running at around €1,000 per event, Lucan native Curley will need upwards of €30,000 to see him through to the European Tour Q-School in the autumn.
The nation's fledgling pro golfers are assisted by the Irish Golf Trust, but the "revolutionary" new fundraising system, known here as PledgeSports.Org, enlists the help of prospective sponsors, fans and the general public in helping rising sports stars to achieve their goals.
The scheme's founder in Ireland, Richard Pearson, says: "Pledge Sports will transform how athletes, teams and clubs fund themselves ... it gives fans and supporters the chance to follow athletes and have a direct impact on their careers.
"A 21st-century movement, crowdfunding is the collective effort of people who pool money and network to support other people or businesses," he adds. "$5.1bn was raised globally through crowdfunding last year and is expected to double in 2014."
Curley, Olympic horsewoman Camilla Spiers, Davis Cup tennis player James Cluskey, mixed martial artists Aisling Daly and James Gallagher, swimmer Barry Murphy, triathlete Kevin Thornton, kayaker Jenny Egan and middle-distance runner John Coghlan are the launch athletes.
The concept is simple and offers hope to a new generation. Curley's profile features on the PledgeSports.Org website for the next 32 days, giving supporters a chance to donate anywhere from €10 to €3,000 to his campaign, for which he offers a menu of benefits in return.
"It has been my lifelong dream to become a successful professional golfer," says Curley. "This is a novel way for people to help me achieve that."