It has been a busy week as Westmeath has provided a splendid backdrop for the FAI’s six-day Festival of Football with the association’s AGM scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday July 26.
The FAI delegation led by Athlone native and president Paddy McCaul and chief executive John Delaney visited more than 20 clubs across the county as well as Costume Barracks and Athlone Institute of Technology. A civic reception was also held yesterday, Thursday July 24 by Westmeath County Council. As well as lifting the profile of football within the county, the FAI have also made 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 Annual General Meeting.
McCaul’s four year term as FAI president ends tomorrow. “It has been a great honour to have held this position during a period of great achievement as we started life in the Aviva Stadium, the new home for Irish soccer; qualified for Euro 2012; and began work on the National Training Centre at our headquarters in Abbotstown,” McCaul said. “The appointment last November of Martin O’Neill as senior international team, with Roy Keane as his assistant, has also generated a lot of positivity,” said McCaul.
“Our delegates are looking forward to coming to the heart of Ireland and I know they will receive a warm Westmeath welcome when they arrive. Westmeath has strong football roots. Athlone Town Football Club is one of the oldest clubs in the country, the Combined Counties Football League is one of the biggest leagues while the Athlone District Schoolboys League and the Midland Schoolboys League are two of the most progressive underage leagues in Ireland.”
FAI chief executive John Delaney believes the Festival of Football format is hugely beneficial to all concerned.
“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,” Delaney said.
“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. I am delighted that the clubs and leagues in Westmeath have embraced this idea enthusiastically while we have also received great support from Westmeath County Council.”