Grassroots football — Ingenious Kilkerrin United fundraise with the 30 bullocks

With Abramovich funding Chelsea, Fenway Sports funding Liverpool and Sheikh Mansour backing Manchester City, it is not a question for those clubs of how can they raise money to fund and build their clubs, but how can they spend the hundreds of millions of pounds available to make their clubs even richer and more successful.

At the other end of the scale at what we call grassroots football, the question becomes where do we get the money? Any money will do if it helps us put one brick on top of another in an attempt at improving the club, primarily the club facilities. From good facilities, other good things should follow.

One of the most original and innovative projects I have ever become aware of as a small club who play in the first division of the Roscommon soccer league called Kilkerrin Utd FC strive to generate the €200,000 required to complete their ambitious plans of a new clubhouse with dressing rooms and a flood lighting system to enable all their teams to train through the dark wet nights of a long Irish winter.

Children Utd’s ambitious plans are funded in a way that gives new meaning to the expression grassroots football as grass is one of the principle ingredients used to grow their investment in a truly remarkable and original endeavor. This is the second time their scheme has been used in Kilkerrin as 20 years ago it was used to help finance the construction of a local community centre.

There are approximately 1,000 people living in the Kilkerrin Clonberne area which is home to the club. About two years ago a fund raising committee was set up and one of their first jobs was to visit all the local farmers and asked them would they be prepared to go into a partnership with the club if the club could buy three bullock calves off the farmer at the going rate for new born bullock calves.

If the farmer agreed and the majority did, the farmer would keep the calves as part of his herd for two years, rearing them as his own, until they were to be taken to Mountbellew cattle market in 2015 to be sold, then moved on for fattening in other parts of Ireland.

When the young bullocks were sold, the majority of them fetched a price of €800 or slightly more. The farmer got €600 the club got any money over and above that. Some farmers did in fact did give the club more than the agreed price and also gave the club gifts of silage, fertilizer, and farm machinery which was also sold at the cattle mart.

In all the deal between the farmers and the club has raised €30,000 for the club.The club’s ingenuity did not end there. In 2014 the club organized a tractor drive through the town and 150 tractors paid €20 each to take part in the drive. In all with collections and donations €5,500 was raised. Sports days were also organised in 2014 and 2015 and they raised another €1200. Even a couple of 12-year-old players from one of the club’s underage teams on Halloween night sold all their trick or treats and raised €35 which was also given to the club. This act of selflessness would seem to epitomise the attitude of the people of the Kilkerrin Clonberne area, in keeping with their strong sense of community.

The new dressing rooms are now completely built, mostly with voluntary labour the only cost incurred was the materials used in their construction. The next part of the project will be the construction of the new floodlights, but a new generator costing €11,000 has already been purchased.

With a capital sports grant of €116,000, a €20,000 grant from the Kilkerrin Community Association (who will also have access to the facility ) and the €30,000 raised from the cattle sales, the total funds raised now stands at €194,000, but with the ingenuity of Kilkerrin Utd FC and with the support of local community, the remaining founds will be found by the time the cattle scheme is finished. [email protected]og Clarkeysfootball.wordpress.com

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