Northern Ireland news

GAA clubs urged to invest in their future with social finance

Pictured at the launch of a new Community Finance Ireland five-part webinar series ‘Supporting GAA Clubs On and Off the Pitch’ were Aisling O’Reilly, webinar series host and Off the Ball sports reporter, Roger Morgan, Chairman Kilcoo GAC and Phelim Sharvin, Head of Community Finance NI.

GAA clubs in Northern Ireland are being urged to "invest in their future" by considering social finance.

Community Finance Ireland has launched a webinar series called 'Supporting GAA clubs on and off the pitch', which focuses on investing in infrastructure and people to "ensure the sustainability of their club, and as a result, their county".

Since 2016, Community Finance Ireland has made £3.2 million social finance available for GAA clubs across the north.

It offers an alternative to traditional lending routes for organisations wanting to make a difference in their local community. As the loans are repaid, the organisation reinvests in other community projects - it is finance with a social impact.

All Ireland Club Champions Kilkoo GAC hosted the first in the series of all island webinars on the role of social finance in the development of GAA clubs.

The club received funding in 2018 towards the build and provision of new facilities for their members.

Kilcoo GAC chairman Roger Morgan said: "Our commitment to the investment of our club and its facilities is at the heart of our promise to make a community hub for everyone.

"Community Finance Ireland understood this commitment and were a key partner in helping us create facilities that are for today and tomorrow's volunteers, players and fans of the game."

Co Down native, Phelim Sharvin from Community Finance Ireland, said: "GAA clubs are often the heart of a local community and it's vital that they invest in their future to sustain that important role as community hub for generations to come.

"GAA clubs are more than the teams who line out every week - they're the coaching staff, the groundskeepers and kit team, the hospitality staff, the bus drivers, the board members and those tireless volunteers who rise to every task at hand.

"The heritage of a club relies on these people, and it's important that clubs invest in the future of those volunteers just as they would look to the future of their senior panel.

"Passing on the baton to the younger generation coming up - both on and off the pitch - is vital for the sustainability of clubs in Down and through the hands-on support from our team at Community Finance Ireland, clubs can rely on fair and flexible social finance solutions that can help them become self-sustainable as a club and community hub."

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