Former Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea was the special guest at the launch of the sixth year of the Football and Fitness Transition Year Course which is run by Fingal County Council and the Football Association of Ireland.
The course, which attracts participants from across Fingal, gives TY students an opportunity to sample full-time football training while also fulfilling their educational requirements and obtaining qualifications in coaching and fitness training.
The 2020-21 course was officially launched by Deputy Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Daniel Whooley, FAI President Gerry McAnaney and Fingal County Council’s Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly at a special ceremony in Corduff Sports Centre where the course is based.
John O’Shea, who won 118 international caps, and is one of Ireland’s most successful footballers ever, took part in a Q&A session during which he imparted plenty of sound advice to the young students who travel every day to Corduff from across the county.
Ireland Under-21 assistant coach and former international player O’Shea said: “It was a pleasure to meet all the students and coaches at Corduff and to help them celebrate the launch of the sixth year of the Football and Fitness Transition Year course run by the FAI and Fingal County Council. As I explained to the students, I would have loved to have such an opportunity available to me when I was their age. This is a great programme which offers them a pathway into football and the fitness industry whilst continuing their studies at the same time. There are so many career opportunities now available in sport and I wish them all the very best of luck for the year ahead.”
Over the course of the 2021-22 school year, the 25 Transition Year students participating in the programme will mix academic subjects such as Maths and English with a range of football coaching courses and modules in Fitness Instruction, Media Skills and Personal Development as well as football training and strength and conditioning work. In addition, the participants will undertake an ITEC Fitness Instructors Course delivered by Litton Lane Fitness Training. They will also return to their local primary school one day a week to work with teachers in the delivery of physical education and gain valuable work experience.
The Deputy Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Daniel Whooley, said: “Fingal County Council was the first local authority to partner up with the FAI back in 2005 and introduce co-funded Football Development Officers and this course, which started in 2016, is an excellent example of the many benefits that have resulted from our long-running partnership. Fingal County Council, through our Sports Office, is using sport to tackle social issues, build communities and create a healthier Fingal and I applaud Niall McGuirk and his team for the excellent work they are doing.”
The President of the Football Association of Ireland, Gerry McAnaney said: “The transition year programme at Corduff offers an excellent opportunity for those players on the course to further their football career in tandem with their education. It is an exemplary programme that we would love to expand on across the country. Our thanks to Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly and Fingal County Council for their ongoing support for this wonderful programme and my thanks to our FAI staff for their commitment to the development of these young players.”
Course Co-ordinator Denis Hyland, who is a co-funded FAI Development Officer with Fingal County Council, said: "This course allows the players to live in a proper football environment for a year while also meeting their educational needs. They are at an age when some young players head abroad to join professional clubs and this programme allows them to reap the same footballing benefits and a lot more while remaining at home with their families and putting something back into their local communities.
“Since we started in 2016 the course has gone from strength to strength creating pathways for players into full-time scholarships, first team contracts in the League of Ireland, professional contracts abroad and underage International football. In the last week we’ve had seven past students selected for Under-17s , three for the Under-19s and five for the Under-21s squads. The last month was a real milestone with Andrew Omobamidele from our 2018 course playing for the senior international team. This is fantastic and I believe the relationship between the underage clubs and ourselves has been a massive success in assisting to develop these players. These graduates are now role models for the course, and they’ve set the barometer and shown our current students that with hard work they can follow in their footsteps.”
Fingal County Council Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly welcomed the students by saying: “We currently have six Football Development Officers across the county and the work being done by Paul Keogh, Sharon Boyle, Sean Moore, Jamie Wilson, Paul Breen and Denis Hyland is really making a positive difference within our communities, whether it is through the rollout of school programmes, the development of women’s football, the running of Late Night Leagues or the implementation of the FAI Club Mark Programme. We have seen over the past five years the positive impact a course like this can have in the development of young footballers but, while the football achievements of those who have graduated from this course are impressive, it is also satisfying to learn that others have taken another path and set up their own businesses.”
The programme is jointly delivered by Fingal County Council’s Sports Office and the Football Association of Ireland with assistance from Empower Blanchardstown.nd Sport Ireland and previous courses have been extremely well-attended with an impressive average attendance rate of 95% throughout the school year being recorded.