The Currin Club, Monaghan, has been selected as the Ulster provincial winners of the GAA ‘Off the Booze and On the Ball’ health challenge.
Over 250 clubs registered for the health challenge at www.gaa.ie/asap with an estimated 2,500 participants taking up the ‘Pint Sized Challenge’ of abstaining from alcohol for the month of January. The challenge was designed to help GAA members’ kick-start their New Year on a healthy footing. Participants were also encouraged to partake in enough exercise during the month to ensure they achieved their recommended weekly activity levels, while clubs were asked to celebrate the conclusion of the challenge by running a health-related event in their local community.
Members of the Association were issued the challenge by Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, Criostóir Ó Cuana, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Róisín Shortall, at its launch in Croke Park in November 2012. The event was driven by the Association’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Programme – a joint initiative with the HSE that aims to reduce the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol and other substances.
The four provincial winning clubs – Currin, Monaghan; Erin’s Isle, Dublin; Midleton, Cork; and Kinvara, Galway – were in Croke Park on Wednesday to celebrate their successful participation in the event and to receive details of their prize – a training session with a high performance coach or a sports nutritionist. All clubs that registered at www.gaa.ie/asap were in with a chance of winning.
Everyone who registered was issued with an extensive information pack that included advice on how to engage with alcohol in a safe and healthy way, as well as practical tips on how to achieve recommended weekly activity levels and advice on diet and nutrition. The feedback from clubs has been extremely positive with the fundraising element of the challenge an obvious incentive in these challenging times.
David Rafferty, chairman of the Currin club, which had 15 participants, said: “We would highly recommend this as a health initiative with the added potential of raising much needed funds for the club and we certainly intend to build on this success next year.”
The Currin club raised a total of €2,057.50 – upon registration each participant received an official sponsorship card – and used it to buy training gear including new footballs, training bids, water bottles, tackle bags and more. The club also organised an 8k fun-run from Clones to Scotshouse on the last weekend of January to mark the successful conclusion of the challenge.
In the Kinvara Club, the U16 hurlers took the lead from their seniors who took up the ‘Pint Sized Challenge’ and decided to go ‘Off the Fizz and On the Ball’ by giving up sweet, fizzy drinks for the month. Their panel of 19 members raised €802.
Colin Regan, National Coordinator of the ASAP programme, said: “Our aim with ‘Off the Booze and On the Ball’ was to enhance the health promotion our clubs already engage in week in week out while putting out a subtle message about the importance of looking at our alcohol intake as part of a holistic approach to health and well-being. The success of this inaugural campaign was largely due to the work of our 32 County ASAP Officers, the willingness of County Boards to push and promote it, and the enthusiasm with which clubs embraced it. We hope it will become a part of the annual GAA calendar.”