Two weeks are now completed in the Westmeath Movathon Lake County Challenge and while the weather did not show any favours to those who were walking, running or cycling in recent times, there was still a steady stream of people participating and making the important donations that will help to finance the preparation of the Westmeath hurling, gaelic football, camogie and ladies gaelic football teams and part fund the upgrading of TEG Cusack Park.
The emphasis in week two was on family participation and on this week of St Patrick’s Day, Westmeath emigrants across the globe are invited to participate and donate in this crusade for the benefit of the entire Westmeath GAA community.
The stakes are high in this venture and County Chairman, Frank Mescall, has set a target for each club affiliated to the county board to raise €2000 for the ambitious project. The social media profile of the Movathon Lake County challenge is excellent but ultimately its success depends on the response of the clubs of the county.
The Go-Fund me page established specifically to receive donations can be found at the Official Westmeath GAA Facebook page.
Those taking part are requested to send in the pictures to [email protected] and to use the hashtag #lakecountychallenge and #westmeathgaaoffical when posting on their own social media platforms.
In 2018, the President of the GAA, John Horan, established a task force to examine ways to cater for the needs of clubs arising from the population shift from rural to urban areas.
One county from each province was chosen in a what was intended to be a detailed examination of the well being of the clubs and the rate of participation in gaelic games.
Westmeath was chosen as the Leinster province in the study and Frank Mescall, Declan Leonard, Terry McCauge, Aiden Magure, Tom Farrell, Darren Magee and Michael O’Sullivan, who acted as secretary to the group, engaged with the clubs collecting and tabulating data on a wide range of club activities.
Patrick Doherty was also closely associated with the work following his appointment as Operations Manager. Much of this work was carried out in 2019 and the committee members deserve great credit for the diligent way in which the work was approached and completed.
As a result of this engagement, the report provides an excellent snapshot of the state of the GAA in the county and a unique insight into the concerns and issues facing the county’s clubs in 2019.The report noted that the population of the county had increased by 40 percent between 1996 and 2016 and that both urban and rural areas of the county experienced population growth and recognised some limited areas of population decline in the north and south-west with Westmeath still having a majority of its population classified as rural.
The committee divided the county into six Local Area Development Regions (LADR ) in order to gain a better understanding of the issues impacting on clubs across the county. Amongst the important conclusions reached was that increases in population was not matched by increased participation levels in most clubs.
Independent teams are, and will continue to be, essential for a number of clubs in the county. The committee recommended that the school links could and should be improved in all areas with each club recommended to have a designated liaison person for the schools in their catchment area.
Another important finding was that the present coaching structure for schools and clubs was not fit for purpose and did not serve the needs of the clubs. The schools will continue to receive assistance but the committee recommended that there is a need for more coaching to be allocated to the clubs with an emphasis on ‘Train the Trainer’ and group sessions organised with quality coaches conducting sessions.
Based on the findings, a number of time-tabled recommendations were made to be implemented across the LADRs with the appointment of Games Development Administrators and Games Development Officers across the six regions a key recommendation.
The work of the demographic committee is now completed and the members will continue to input their expertise as members of the county’s Strategic Development committee.