The event was organised by the London Camogie Development Committee, a committee established by London County Camogie Board in early 2009 to assess the current state of the game in the UK, and to ultimately devise, in consultation with members, a 5 year development plan. Delegates in attendance on Saturday included members from all of the current affiliated camogie clubs in the UK, the University sector, Glasgow cam¾gs, as well as representatives from GAA Games Development and GAA Provincial Council.
Guest speakers included Joan O’Flynn, current President of the Camogie Association and former London Irish player, and Linda Mellerick, six times All-Ireland Senior Medallist with Cork, who offered valuable insight into her own time as a player, her current work with the media in Cork on promotion of the game, her experience working with underage coaching, and the successful establishment of a Supporters Club in Cork.
The day was extremely well-structured, facilitated by Chairperson of the Development Committee, Jacqueline Thornton, with a great mix of presentations and workshop sessions, where debate was lively and extremely positive. In all, delegates engaged in 3 workshop sessions, discussing and debating the current state of the game, branding and communication, and underage development, and many great ideas and suggestions were shared with the floor.
Other keynote speakers were Ciaran O’Kane of Farney Media, who outlined how the association could use online media as a promotional tool, and Claire Hedderman, a member of the development committee, who addressed the commonly shared issue of funding. The president of London Camogie, Ettie Kelly, also reminisced about her time playing in London.
The area of underage development was one which sparked much debate. Ronan McCarthy, GAA Development Officer, shared some of his experiences coaching kids in the schools, and stressed the need for a school/club link. Camogie in London does not currently have an underage structure, but a schools blitz in Greenford on 11th July, being initiated by the Camogie Board’s Children’s Officer, Frances O’Neill, is seen as the first step in rectifying this.
Presentations were made on the day to all the keynote speakers, and to Kieran Collins, Provincial GDA Manager, who had offered invaluable guidance and direction to the Camogie Development Committee since their foundation in February 2009. Jacqueline Thornton also thanked sponsors of the day namely, GAA Provincial Council of Great Britain, Camden Irish Centre, Camogie Association and the London County Camogie Board.
In her closing remarks, Joan O’Flynn thanked the individual Development Committee members, Jacqueline Thornton, Mary MacArthur, Frances O’Neill, Breege Doherty, Claire Hedderman, Denis Neenan and Dearbhla Gannon, for their outstanding work to date, and for bringing this day to fruition. She summarised the day using 6 P’s – Proactive, Progressive, Powerful, Professional, Potential, and Proud – felling that those adjectives accurately reflected what she had witnessed during the day. She congratulated all delegates in attendance for their enthusiasm and engagement, and said that she looked forward to the next steps in this process.
The London Development Committee aim to have their Development Plan in place by the end of this season and will launch it later this year.