The ground-breaking Team Castlebar 2012 project, which will see 47 young female footballers travel to New York next July to play both Gaelic football and soccer under the Team Castlebar banner, was branded as the way forward for Irish sport by Minister Ring at the launch in St Mary’s Hall, Castlebar, on Friday last.
“This is a project that signals all that’s good in sport and community life. Team Castlebar 2012 will have huge benefits for Castlebar, for Mayo, and for Ireland and I want to congratulate everyone involved in such a great and worthwhile project. This is the way forward for sport in Ireland and I’m glad to say that it started here in Mayo tonight,” said Deputy Ring.
Team Castlebar 2012 is a collaborative arrangement between the u-16 girls’ teams of Castlebar Mitchels and Castlebar Town FC. The clubs share a large number of players and have come together to bring both teams to America to compete against teams there.
Chairman of the project Daniel Caldwell said he was delighted to be involved in such an exciting undertaking, and said that initially people outside Team Castlebar 2012 thought “it was a mad idea, but now they can see how wonderful it is.”
Mr Caldwell thanked everyone involved, adding that already the project had received huge backing from the local business community. “A project of this size will require huge funding but we’re heartened by the response. Each girl travelling is supported by a local business, and already we have attracted one of our main sponsors with Elverys Sport giving their backing to the project. We know this will be a hugely beneficial project for the players, the two clubs, and the community in general and we’re very excited about it,” he added.
Michael Gallagher of Castlebar Mitchels said the club was delighted to be involved with such a wonderful project. “Mitchels has been at the forefront of developments in the community for many years but I doubt if the club has ever been involved in something as exciting as this. We dream big in Castlebar and work towards achieving great things. We want the best for our footballers and are delighted to work hand in hand with other sports to achieve that. We share a huge amount of players with Castlebar Town and have built up an excellent relationship with the club, which has benefited all and we know that the Team Castlebar 2012 project will further strengthen that bond.”
Minister Ring said: “In future my Department will be looking at funding shared sporting facilities in communities, and this project shows the whole country what can be done when clubs work together for the benefit of the whole community.
“I know that Team Castlebar will be one of the groups hosting their American friends back here in Mayo for ‘The Gathering’ of sporting clubs in 2013, and that will also have a huge beneficial effect on the county.
“This is a unique and wonderful project and I hope people support it in every way possible.”