Fingal County Council and the Football Association of Ireland have today celebrated the graduation of the class of ’22 on the Football and Fitness TY Course, a joint collaboration based at the Corduff Sports Centre.
The only course of its kind in Ireland, Football and Fitness has welcomed the latest graduation of its TY students, providing them with the opportunity to meet their educational requirements whilst also developing a whole range of football, fitness and life skills.
The 25 TY students from across Fingal received their certificates in front of an audience that included senior members of the FAI, Fingal County Council officials and those involved in the day-to-day running of the programme. Also on hand to congratulate the latest cohort was Republic of Ireland assistant manager Keith Andrews. He was there alongside Ireland Under-21 and Motherwell star Ross Tierney, who graduated from the TY course in 2017 whilst also playing for Bohemians.
While football remains a central focus of the joint Fingal County Council and FAI initiative, students participating in the course also benefit from gaining a highly sought after full Fitness Instructor’s qualification from Litton Lane Training. They also undertake the FAI’s Coach Education pathway that gives them PDP1 and PDP2 qualifications, as well as a gym instructor qualification.
Deputy Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Daniel Whooley praised the commitment of the new TY graduates and that of the coaching staff: “This is a programme offering Fingal TY students an amazing experience that brings together the learning of key life skills both on and off the football pitch. We believe it helps give these graduates good grounding in what can be a high-pressure environment, alongside the benefit of them accessing experts in sports related fitness.
“This really is an opportunity many other students around the country would relish - living in a proper football environment and gaining additional education along the way. It’s a real testament to the efforts of the staff involved, be it through the FAI, Fingal County Council or Sports Ireland, that we are now congratulating the sixth year of graduates from the course. Looking at the calibre of students here today shows that this TY programme sets the benchmark and it’s no surprise to hear that there is a huge level of interest for places each year. I hope we can continue to produce an alumni that will be scattered across clubs not only in Ireland, but across Europe.”
“It was a pleasure to meet all the students and coaches at Corduff and to help them celebrate the completion of the sixth year of the Football and Fitness Transition Year course run by the FAI and Fingal County Council,” said Keith Andrews.
“The course is a fantastic resource for the students to be able to continue their education but also keep that pathway into football open as they get their education. It's a brilliant opportunity and now with more career opportunities opening up in football, and sport as a whole in Ireland, this could take them on a really promising career path.”
FAI Course coordinator Denis Hyland stated: “This is the sixth year of the course and it has gone from strength to strength. The course allows TY students an opportunity to live the life of a full-time footballer for a year while also meeting their educational needs. We are very proud to have one of our former students Ross Tierney here today, as Ross is a real inspiration to our current graduates and a fantastic role model for the course.”
Robert Burns, Director of Community Development and Sports at Fingal said: “Barcelona has its fabled La Masia academy, Bayern Munich have a swathe of homegrown talents from their football school who have helped them win countless domestic and European trophies, and despite its recent struggles Manchester United are well-known for the talented players it has produced via its academy set-up.
“Here in Fingal we have something that’s truly unique for the whole of Ireland and we are extremely proud to be able to partner with the FAI on this. We are looking to not only help produce potential superstars of the future, but also give them a greater awareness and understanding of things like sports psychology and nutrition that they can take into their everyday lives. We certainly hope this gives these students a welcome boost in their endeavours and helps take their abilities, desire and passion to the next level.”
Such is the strength and depth of the Fingal TY course that 11 of the students graduating have received an international cap for the Republic of Ireland this year. One of those, Balbriggan student Danny McGrath, has shared his journey through the TY course in a video (https://youtu.be/Mk4fayiokls) which shows just what is involved and provides a good snapshot of what day-to-day rigours future TY hopefuls should expect to face.
Students must have permission from their schools to participate in the ground-breaking programme, which along with the likes of Tierney, has also seen other graduates include Andrew Omobamidele, who made his full Senior Ireland squad debut in September 2021 and who was part of the Norwich team that played in this season’s English Premier League.
Across the eight months that the TY course was running, students took modules covering maths and English, as well as learning about topics such as sports psychology and nutrition, and there’s even cooking lessons involved on how to produce high-performance meals for athletes. This year they also had an opportunity to gain insights from current Ireland and Everton captain Séamus Coleman, who took the time to share his knowledge and experience as a professional player.
Since launching in 2016, the TY course has been run in the Dublin 15 area of Fingal, with Corduff Sports Centre providing a base for the various aspects the course involves. Another important element of the course sees the students giving back some of their new founds skills by conducting lessons at schools and with community groups across Fingal.