On Monday The Football Association of Ireland launched its 2014 Festival of Football and annual general meeting which will take place in County Westmeath from July 21-26.
The launch took place at the offices of Westmeath County Council in Mullingar in the presence of the cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr Peter Burke, and the county manager, Pat Gallagher as well as FAI president Paddy McCaul, chief executive John Delaney, and Westmeath development officer Paul Osam.
“Since 2007 we have used the FAI AGM as an opportunity to showcase football in the host county through the addition of a week-long Festival of Football. This year, the FAI Festival of Football will run from July 21 to 26 throughout Westmeath with the assistance of Westmeath County Council,” explained FAI chief executive, John Delaney.
“So far we have had Festivals of Football in Kerry, Mayo, Monaghan, Wexford, Clare, Donegal, and Wicklow and the format has proved to be very successful. During the week we will take the FAI all over the county and I am delighted that the clubs in Westmeath have already embraced this idea enthusiastically.
“We are looking forward to bringing our 2014 Festival of Football to Westmeath. The clubs and leagues in the county are doing superb work and the build-up to our AGM in Athlone will provide a great platform for them to showcase what they are doing to grow and develop the game at the heart of their communities.”
Among the events planned are 20 club visits by FAI development officers, coaching staff, officials and well known football personalities, four football fun days in Athlone, Castlepollard, Kilbeggan, and Mullingar and a week-long eFlow FAI Summer Soccer School at Mullingar Athletic Football Club.
Republic of Ireland Senior Team Manager Martin O’Neill will also visit the county during the week and will be present at the inaugural Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Clubs Conference in Mullingar on July 23 at which 60 RISSC representatives from around the world will be in attendance.
The Football Association of Ireland will make equipment, funds, match tickets, and services available to clubs in Westmeath under a special Club Support Programme, worth up to €100,000, to mark the county’s hosting of the 2014 FAI Annual General Meeting. Applications have been invited from all clubs or football organisations based in Westmeath and they have until June 27 to apply.
Around 250 delegates representing every league and divisional association in Ireland are expected to attend the AGM and will arrive in Westmeath on July 25 ahead of the delegates’ dinner in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone, at which the FAI will announce the Aviva Club of the Year as well as presenting the following national awards; the John Sherlock Service to Football Award, the Noel O’Reilly Coach of the Year, the Jeremy Dee Services to Women’s Football Award and the FAI Communications Awards.
Welcoming the selection of Westmeath for the AGM and Festival of Football, FAI president Paddy McCaul, who hails from Athlone, said: “I am looking forward to welcoming our delegates from all over Ireland to Westmeath and I am sure they will enjoy their visit to the heart of Ireland.”