Category Archives: Fundraising

All Stars you say?

 

BelgiumGAA_AllStars2014 - it's here.
BelgiumGAA_AllStars2014 – it’s here.

Kicking off early in the VUB, we’ll have mens, ladies, not quite ladies, not yet men’s matches all day: bring small change and notes because the formidable current players of Belgium GAA will be selling *raffle tickets* – oh yes, we’ll be doling out the prizes in Devs in the evening.

 

BUT – we’re also having a photo competition too, for the glory, honour and recognition and the promise of ‘Irish alcohol’ – tweet your photos of the day to @BelgiumGAA and @BelgiumGAA_AllStars2014 (quite the mouthful) and the best prizes, judged by an impartial jury, will be awarded the prize.

A Belgian belle returns

MBros on TV3, showing them how it's done

A post from our very own Bros about the impending weekend

It’s been six long months since I last set foot in Brussels – the longest I’ve stayed away since 2008, and I feel it, most acutely, in my soul. I’m in denial that Brussels and Belgium GAA continues on without me – sure how in the name of God could it survive without the Bomber? But it does, and training goes on, and new members join, and the craic is had and Championships are won. But it’s incredibly comforting to know that when I do return I can slide right back in as if I never left. And that’s all down to the club spirit of openness and the common bond that once you’ve thrown on the Craobh Rua jersey – the team, the club, Belgium GAA, never leaves you!

This is the second year for the Ladies All Stars and turnout from our side is a bit low. I could have done a bit more to cajole former players to book flights, but we have Malice, Aine Mc, and Rosine making the huge effort to fly over from Dublin. I’ve also tempted Jess, Mary B, Amy-Louise, Aine Murph and Clare Applebee to don the jersey for the day! We have numbers for a Camogie match and for the football we’re going to divide up the games into All Stars V Belgium GAA, Over 30s v Under 30s, but my personal favourite is 2008/2009 vs the rest. With the latter I’m allowed to return to my 23 year old self walking through the gates of Park 50 basking in the sunshine, with a quick glance up at the lads to spot the talent – not bad in fairness. At my first training, despite having clocked Anay, Babs invited me to Madrid for the tournament. That’s how it is with Belgium GAA – throw yourself into it or stay on the sidelines.

2008 was the most special. We had five pan-euro tournaments that year – hard fought. We had the bare bones of a team and had epic battles. Our spirit strengthened, friendships were forged. We were a new club, a new team, against the odds, taking on Europe. Victories in Madrid, Luxembourg, Rennes, Munich ensued and we took our first European Championship in Maastricht. We didn’t know what it meant but we knew it felt good to win and we didn’t want to let go of that trophy. And we haven’t since!

Camogie holds a place in my heart – in all the sports I’ve played I have never felt a bond with my teammates as I have with a hurl in my hand. The sacrifice and determination to win a Camogie championship takes sheer hard work, one that binds a team together for life. Ill never forget Aisling Fenton stopping a fast sliotar with her chest in Thurles. She tempted serious injury by putting her body on the line for the good of the team. I sympathise with people who have never experienced that connection.

Whenever Belgium GAA wins, we use to shout out “Its a great day for the Parish”. There is a sense of community instilled in the Club. The Club welcomes anyone who has moved to the parish with open arms. Members give up so much of their time for the good of the parish- to coach, plan trainings, fundraise, volunteer, collect goalposts in a different country, sell raffle tickets, clean toilets after a Fr.Ted night – but they reap what they sow – Belgium GAA is the best club in Europe.

I have moved back to Dublin to start a different life but I am grateful to the universe for allowing me be part of this club. I learnt a lot in my years, some great lessons on and off the pitch that made me a better person. Even now in Dublin, my closest friends are ex-club members and I know for certain that they will be friends for life. There is something so special about this club, the community it creates, the meitheal it instills. I miss it dearly.

Craobh Rua abú!

Race Against Nature: Belgium GAA overcome muddy obstacles

That’s where they were! Men’s fundraising efforts going on wonderfully well! Still time to support them! Hat tip of course to the wonderful people behind One Life Two Clubs

One Life. Two Clubs.

A group of seven brave footballers from Belgium GAA accepted the challenge set down by the Race Against Nature in Averbode on Sunday and took on the muddy obstacle course to raise money for the club.

Race Against Nature

The day began at a meeting point on the outskirts of Brussels because of car-free day and ended in an Irish pub in Leuven with the All-Ireland final between Donegal and Kerry.

Race Against Nature

The Race Against Nature is part of the Spartacus Series and involves team members crawling through mud, jumping over walls, wading through rivers and running through forests. It is an exhilarating challenge and one which the Belgium GAA team accomplished with no small amount of gritty determination and strong teamwork.

Race Against Nature

There were a few celebratory pints of Guinness at the end of the day to celebrate….

Race Against Nature

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St.Patrick’s Festival 2014 & One Life Two Clubs

St. Patrick’s Day, or fortnight, depending on your take on the whole national celebration thing, has become a wonderful fixture in the life of our little club. This year, 2014, was to be no different.

The sun shone, people showed up, the cakes were unreal, as ever, games were played, cruciate ligaments were dispatched with as is tradition, and the military pitch in the Cinquantenaire Park was home for one wonderful day. With our friends in FC Ireland, Bia Mara and the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU and the Irish Embassy, De Valera’s and the Old Oak, John Martin’s, Vyzion and the time, effort and energy of everyone who came, played, volunteers, enjoyed the sunshine and the day, it was a really lovely event. We had club members from near and far join for the weekend, which points to how much more than a sports club Belgium GAA is.

We were blessed with the weather and the iron fist organisation skills of our secretary Jelena, and for those of you who missed it, you’ll be able to see the footage from the weekend at the end of the year, when ‘One Life, Two Clubs‘ the current documentary film project of our very own Breandán Kearney gets released. If you’ve been at training recently, you’ll have noticed a man with a tripod in a rain jacket, not creeping about in the bushes, but filming the very rusty pre-season trainings, and traipsing up the road to Holland in the Benelux regionals at the begining of the year. This labour of love is the brain child of Breandán, who, despite living in Gent, really adds to Belgium GAA´s claim to the all country title. 

The documentary will chart the rise and well, rise (we hope) of the 2014 season, from the 1st training sessions at the start of the year, to the Maastricht final in October, months ahead. There’s something insane about working or studying full time and spending the bones of 8 hours of each week thundering up and down the astroturf pitches in the VUB, spending the weekend pucking around in the park and Sundays training the kids club out in Tervuren. Something insane, if you look at it at a purely rational point of view – ‘What, you play only tournaments?’, ‘You only get to play matches every six weeks if you’re lucky’… but playing GAA in Belgium isn’t fully rational. It’s slightly mad, and absolutely wonderful. It’s hard to describe the bonds that develop between the people you train hard with, play hard with, traipse around Europe with, playing these games that cause other commuters to stand back far away from you on crowded metros because hurls just seem to be that little bit scary. The way they become your surrogate family, your automatic go-to friends, and be it endorphins, be it the pure release of getting to run around and let it all go behind you, or the pure love of the games we play, the pleasure of sharing it with other people and seeing them in their turn start to adore it too, to seeing old friends coming back to play after injury and it feeling like they never left, its something that I know that my life would be much the poorer without. For many in our club, Belgium GAA is their first club, but for others, there are deep ties to others in Ireland, or even Canada too. And this, in our quintessential diaspora GAA club, our pan-European region, is part of the evolving face of the GAA.
It’s irrational, enriching, impoverishing (from a dry financial cost benefit point of view) but gives so very much more back in every other possible way.  Let me not evangelise any more. But please let me point you to this exciting and really deadly project that we’re part of. If you’re interested in finding out more about it, it has it’s own website and nifty blog too, on One Life, Two Clubs, so feel free to check it out.
In his own eloquent words, Brendán describes the project thusly.
There is a famous GAA quote that reflects the unique parochial and community nature of the Association. It goes something along the lines that every member has only one life and in that one life, they have by birth right only one club. It is a sentiment that reaches deep into the GAA psyche.

Many of us in Belgium GAA were indeed committed members of our clubs back home in Ireland. We were born into them. They taught us to play. They brought us community. They introduced us to the ideals of an Ireland in which we all wanted to be involved.

But there is a problem with that saying. Because we are here building a new community. It may be in a strange place and it may have a different dynamic to those clubs at home in Ireland, but it is no less important and certainly no less a part of us. In fact, for some, it has become the first club. For Belgium GAA members, that GAA saying is wrong.

In our club, there is a story.

There are amazing characters sprinkled out among all of the playing codes, committees and social networks.

There are friendships that have evolved into life-changing journeys together from chance meetings at tournaments where GAA seems, if it is possible, so out of place.

There are fascinating sporting relationships that have developed between clubs so unlinked it would not have seemed feasible only a few years ago, including the intense football rivalry with Guernsey.

And there are personal stories of emigration and transience; of community and togetherness; of personal failure and triumphant achievement.

One Life. Two Clubs’ is a film documentary project which sets out to tell this story. It is being produced by former Belgium GAA player and current member, Breandán Kearney, with the assistance of club committee member and player, Darragh Cotter. Mutiny Filmhouse, based in Belfast, will be assisting in a consultancy role.

The project invites anyone with a passion for Belgium GAA to get involved. That can be helping out with requests to film events within the club throughout the year; or contributing
any archive footage of club events in previous years and during 2014; or simply raising awareness of the project with friends and family in Belgium and back in Ireland, GAA or
otherwise.

To find out more and to become part of the community of this project, sign up for email updates and ‘like’ the project on facebook. All details are on the blog site for this project: http://onelifetwoclubs.wordpress.com/

Belgium GAA and SUAS, Ladies fundraiser, Dendermonde 10km, 23rd of March, 2014

Hello there again.

How nice to see you all.

What do the Sunderbands, Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Dendermonde have in common? It’s a fiendishly hard question, but this year the answer is you, or more hopefully, us.

How come? Pray tell? How is this the answer? Well the answer lies in what we’re going to do this year for our 1st fund-raiser.

Floodlight, 24/7 safe astroturf pitches ain’t cheap. We have fantastic facilities with the VUB, but, astro doesn’t grow on trees. So, along with our fees (to be paid at your soonest convenience, thanks Oliver) we also need to fundraise. So, Jane and Elaine, Camogie and Ladies Football officers (remember from below?) decided that this was what we should do.

A 10km race in the flattest part of Belgium, wonderful Flanders, in the village of Dendermonde. 50% of the funds that all of the runners raise will go to Belgium GAA, and 50% will go to SUAS.

A joint undertaking to raise funds for Belgium GAA, but also for SUAS Educational Development. It sounds like a bit of a mouthful, so please let me digress, and tell you about SUAS.

Morning assembly in Gatoto primary school, Nairobi, Kenya
Gatoto.

In their own words, Suas is a movement that supports quality education in disadvantaged communities in Ireland and in Developing Countries. (for the most part, or at the moment partnerships are maintained with schools in Kenya and India). They do this by working with and supporting partner organisations to develop, deliver, monitor and evaluate quality education programmes; engaging and preparing volunteers to support programme delivery; and building a wider movement of members who share our vision and aims. Two such volunteers, Ciara Farrell and yours truly spent summers in India and Kenya respectively, working with the most amazing people, who deal with seriously tough conditions.

 

In Ireland, SUAS run after school homework clubs, literacy clubs, bridge to college groups, global development education courses, and of course the volunteer program every summer, providing the experience of a lifetime, a really brilliant experience. Should you be interested at all about doing more for SUAS contact Dermot, he’s a gem, and will tell you all you need to know.

So, should you feel so inclined, please do support us and SUAS and their brilliant work, and your brilliant club. It’s a total win-win situation. Except of course for the people running the 10km, or slightly freaked out about doing the race. If you’d like to sign up or sponsor us, please click the link here.

And to finish, I would like to extend all of our collective sympathy and thoughts to the O’Connor family at this difficult time. Our love and thoughts are with you all.

A new year, a new start, a new committee, where to begin?

Well hello there. Ahem. Can you hear me? I hope so.


This post comes with apologies and with thanks. Thanks firstly to the committee members from last year for all of the hard work that they put in running the wondrous thing that is Belgium GAA, an apology for not having this updated instantly with the news of your newly elected committee, but I’ve got this post up in time for the beginning of training, officially, which is next Monday coming, Monday the 3rd of February. Rub the sleep from the winter hibernation out of your eyes, root out any gear that you might have left in your home (preferably wash it before you bring it back too) and find your football boots again, because all codes are back from Monday next. Same times, same places, at the VUB sports pitches.


I mentioned the outgoing committee and their sterling work, but wanted to take the time to introduce you all to the new 2014 committee, without violating their privacy too much, but so that you know who to ask with all or any questions you may have for the coming year.

2014 Committee –  or, Shane, Jelena, Oliver, Declan, Elaine, Niall, Jane, Padraic, Sylvia, Anna and Darragh.

 

Shane, probably could have been a gymnast

So lets start with the Chairperson. This year, like the second half of last year, Shane Ryan will be the chair. When asked to describe him in a few words, these come to mind. He’s energetic, positive, communicative, a hurler, a Limerickman and a phenomenal Jagerbomber. All great things. To contact him with all sorts of questions, you’ll be able to email him at

chairperson.belgium.europe (a) gaa.ie 

 Jelena holding onto 2013’s literary masterpiece

Jelena is our one and only Serbian powerhouse. I kid you not. This woman gets things done. No messing. Not only is Jelena our Secretary for the second year in a row, a role that she has excelled in (and potentially deserves a sainthood for), she is also involved in the upper echelons of the Bass empire, running European GAA.  No joke. So great is her love for camogie, she may have once donated a fingernail to the sport, but she has also become a phenomenal goalie for ladies football. Too many words. I’m going to stop now.  secretary.belgium.europe (a) gaa.ie will get her should you need to contact her, but I promise you, she´ll contact you!

Ah go on!

Oliver is our money man, officially called Treasurer, for the third year running, again, an incredible job. I cant find any photos from his time as a dancing priest, but please pay your fees, or Oliver will have to get serious with you. Running a club this size, and with this level of commitment and success requires serious organisation, and Oliver contributes hugely to this. Here he is, observing the dancing priest competition. 

belgiumgaa.treasurer (a) gmail.com will get you Oliver should you need him.

Declan (Deccie) is this years Assistant Secretary. So he does all sorts of wonderful things. He, in his spare time, is the Linguistic and Cultural officer for the European County Board, but is an accomplished actor, a phenomenal footballer, and can walk for a really long time in one go (100kms in one go is his personal best record so far).  

(Late edit, Declan has his own email address now) 

belgiumgaa.assistantsecretary (a) gmail.com for walking, method acting and general assistance tips. 

Nach bfhuil si go h’ailinn?

Caoimhe Ní Shúilleabháin is the our Irish Club Liaison Officer and European Ladies Football officer. Caoimhe is involved in all sorts, a prolific campaigner, a proud Wicklow woman, she’s very involved in Na Gaeil i gcéin, Seachtain na Gaeilge, getting people motivated and getting heaps of people interested in training the kids club (speaking of which, training is starting back for the kids club this weekend at the Astro Pitches at the BSB).  

ladiesfootballofficer.europe (a) gaa.ie will reach Caoimhe if you need her. 

We move on now to the code officers, the people who email you weekly with all sorts of important things. Make sure you’re signed up on Teamer. Generally do what they say, read the whole email, and all will go well 🙂

1/2 a Tipp tackle

Elaine (Young) Kennedy is this years Camogie officer. A recent returnee, Elaine has great things ahead for us this year. With captain/coach Irene, the Camogie branch of the club is in very good hands. Not that I should tell you here, but there’s talk of joining the Quidditch championship being played in Brussels this weekend, to see how brooms compare to hurls. We’ll let you know how it goes. Elaine is a keen iceskater, so we’ll see how the Canadian’s promised introduction of ice hockey goes for this camogie woman. 

belgiumgaa.camogie (a) gmail.com will get you Elaine. Training starts back on Monday 3rd of Feb indoors in the VUB from 7. Join!

Niall loves hurling      

 Niall Goodwin is taking on the mantle of the men’s hurling team. A former meme teenstar on the internet, Niall is looking forward to bringing the men’s hurling team on to great success this year. From Waterford originally, but part Naas and part Eurobrat, living in Brussels for a good spell at this stage, Niall sends out the unmissable hurling update weekly from hurling.belgium (a) gmail.com

Jane in flight

Jane Brennan is this years Ladies Football officer, retaking over her role after a two year break from running the show. There is no organisational feat that this most practical of people cannot achieve, as well as being one of the ‘originals’. Jane is excellent and an enthusiastic photographer, so every image of you looking slightly awkward and sweaty while wearing the wonderful shiny red shorts of Belgium GAA, either Jane or her camera has captured it. La Fent is captaining the ladies team this year, and with Jane they’ve arranged the 1st challenges of 2014, getting a Paidi O’Se tournament together (22nd and 23rd of Feb) and a 10km fundraiser in Dendermonde (in only 52 days time).

belgiumgaa.ladiesfootball (a) gmail.com is how you can contact Jane, and training is back from Monday 3rd from 8pm. 

P is this snazzy all the time

Padraic Varley, Galway man, successfully lobbied, robbed, bribed and stole (intense campaigning and lobbying) to get the coveted position (against a host of opponents) of men’s football officer. He promises a no nonsense regime of all organisational and logistical things football. This role is his dream come true.


Trainings will be Monday and Thursday from 20.00 – 21.30 in the VUB, and Padraic is hosting the 1st of the years team meetings after training on Monday 3rd. 

football.belgium (a) gmail.com will be the best way to reach him.

The other three remaining people on the committee look after glamorous things like this blog, your social events and socks. All fairly great really. So last but not least, here are the last of us. 

 

Doin her thing

Sylvia McCarthy, of the Cork baking dynasty and utter baking and blogging legend is another ‘original’, a dual player, previous PRO and all round good egg. She’ll be doing her best to sort out exciting social events for us this year as our Social Secretary. I have no doubt that you’ll be entertained in all sorts of wonderful ways, but please do send her on suggestions and ideas too! She’s also a very very happy runner – check her out in her annual 10km run in Dendermonde!
belgium.gaa.social (a) gmail.com 

 

Darragh vs. the Berlaymont

Darragh Cotter was once sent to Uganda to sort out a truce between the Belgian boys teams and some of our neighbours in the Hague, but it didn’t work out, the rivalry there is still as stiff as ever, and he’s back again amongst us. Holds a joint record with Conor DeBarra for the longest journey to a tournament, he’s back to equip us all with all of the accoutrements we might need, our Equipment Officer

Though it might read like something from the Wire, rest assured, this is a completely legitimate email address. 

Darragh’s contact details are belgiumgaa.gear (a) gmail.com 

 

Jumping for joy

I served time as ladies football officer, but this year will be here, doing this and that, while hoping to keep you updated on the goings on for the four codes, club thingys, etc. Please do email me at pro.belgiumgaa (a) gmail.com, and bear with while we try and resolve a few niggles with the website. 

 

Belgium GAA Christmas Quiz

The European Camogie and Hurling Champions Belgium GAA would like to invite you to our Christmas Table Quiz Fundraiser!

It will be a great night with own quizmaster extraordinaire and prizes on the night!

It’s just 5 euro per person with a maximum of 5 people per team.

Make life easy and book a table for your team in advance by e-mailing belgiumgaa.camogie@gmail.com

So please invite all friends, family, co-workers and quiz lovers to the 6 Nations Bar (48-50 Rue Gretry) on Wednesday the 18th of December at 8pm.