For a few years now, the LGFA has worked closely with the Department of Arts Education and Physical Education and the Gaelic games development officer, Joe Redington, at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, to provide Ladies Football coach education programmes to students of the college. These coaching courses are organised within the college’s Sports Coach programme where students get the opportunity to acquire coaching qualifications in a wide range of sports.
With the involvement of Carmel Power, Limerick Ladies Football Development Officer, college students have been organising fun activity days for girls from local primary schools for the past three years. The programme allows MIC to develop sustainable links with local schools and has provided student teachers with the opportunities to put coaching theory into practice.
Last term, over 150 girls from 12 primary schools in Limerick were involved in the games and coaching sessions that were run by the students during a one-day blitz. Each team played 5 games throughout this blitz. The students utilised their skills developed through the college’s Gaelic Games Coach Education programmes to facilitate games, coach teams and players in the basic skills of Ladies Gaelic Football and to referee the games in the blitz. The students involved in organising the Blitz last semester were Brian O’Halloran, Michael Sheehan, William Hickey, Kevin Phelan, SineÃ¡d Deegan, Conor Cooney, Rachel Kennelly, Laura Ivory (all 3rd B.Ed.) and Paul Kelly (3rd B.A.). Incidentally, Rachel was a member of the Tipperary team that played in the recent all-Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park.
Dr Michael Finneran, Head of the Department of Arts Education and Physical Education at MIC, attended the blitz last term and congratulated those responsible for organising the blitz, saying, “Congratulations to the students in organizing such a successful blitz. This work keeps us connected to local schools and gives our students invaluable experience.”
In the coming months Limerick Ladies, Munster Ladies and staff at MIC will work together to expand the current programme to include more extensive links to schools in the Limerick area. Additionally, students will be encouraged to get involved in underage coaching in their own clubs.
In January, a Ladies Football Fundamentals coaching course will be provided for the college’s ladies’ footballers. These students will then be given the opportunity to transfer the skills developed on the course into the provision of coaching in their clubs. It is envisaged that they will conduct a minimum of four coaching sessions in their own clubs, enabling them to get an invaluable coaching experience, while at the same time assisting in the development of Ladies Football in their own area.
Secondly, 3rd year students will be the event organisers of the very successful event day for the local schools. In addition to organising the event, it is planned that they will conduct some coaching sessions in the individual schools prior to the blitz. This will help them to gain experience in a school setting and strengthen the college’s link with local stakeholders in Limerick City and the surrounds.
Mary Immaculate College has a long and proud tradition in the promotion of Ladies Football. These current initiatives represent a chance for the students to enhance their own skills, while at the same time making a contribution to the wider community.