Harte appeal for Rio 'Green Machine'
Ireland's superstar goalkeeper David Harte has asked the public to get behind a new fundraising drive for the men's hockey team which is making history in Rio this summer.
Many of the 'Green Machine' have put their jobs on hold ahead of the Games. They get Government support but are collectively trying to make up a €225,000 funding shortfall to help maximise their training ahead of Rio 2016.
The team is asking the public to back their new crowd-funding campaign which is labelled 'Obsessed' to reflect what is driving their Olympic dream.
"I'm in the privileged position that hockey is my life and I have a full-time professional contract with a club in Holland," said Harte (left), who was voted the top goalkeeper in world hockey last year.
"But a lot of other guys on the team are going out on a limb and well beyond their means for the Olympics.
"For them it has meant moving back home to save money on rent, struggling to pay mortgages, taking sabbaticals or even quitting their jobs," added the Kinsale native.
"One of my friends has re-located from London back to Belfast to train. There are also students on the team deferring their college courses, all in pursuit of the chance to compete in the Olympics."
The 'final cut' has yet to be made to Craig Fulton's extended Olympic squad so giving up work to train is a huge gamble for some of them.
Harte and his twin brother Conor, who plays centre-back for the national team, are playing professionally abroad but when the national and international club seasons wind up at the end of this month the whole squad will train collectively in Ireland.
"If you put it into the context of what some of our Olympic opponents have we're maybe not at one twentieth or one thirtieth of their funding, which is in the millions," Harte explained.
According to the 27-year-old, part of the funding will also allow the team to travel to an important Six Nations tournament in Spain next month.
Ireland's Road to Rio also includes a series of high-profile home internationals in the coming months which they're hoping will get big support.
They'll have four games against Korea in Dublin in late May and June, followed by four more - against Canada in Stormont and Dublin and then two games against the Netherlands in Harte's native Cork in July.
To donate to the fund, see https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/obsessed/