Ballinderry Shamrocks GAC: supporting youth initiatives

by Jasmine Ward | Jan 26, 2022 | Stories

Ballinderry Shamrocks GAC: supporting youth initiatives

Aiming to support the young people in their catchment area through activity, connection, and togetherness, Ballinderry Shamrocks GAC enlisted the help of the crowd and Sport Northern Ireland. 

Located in a small rural parish in Northern Ireland, Ballinderry Shamrocks GAC has a rich tradition and heritage of serving their local community through the promotion of Gaelic games, including Gaelic football and camogie. As a focal point of the community, their club is home to two floodlit playing pitches, a synthetic multi-sports pitch, and a community hub with an indoor sports hall and studio space.

Though like many sports clubs across the globe, the pandemic forced them to shut their doors and keep to COVID regulations. With 250 of their 400 members being under 18 years old, they saw firsthand the impact this had on the young people of the area.

This inspired them to create a youth engagement initiative, focussing on activity, connection and togetherness to help improve the wellbeing of their younger members. They wanted to encourage all the young people in their catchment area to come and use their facilities and enjoy each other’s company.

Though the pandemic didn’t just affect their members, it also left them with a hole in their finances. This meant that to hire specialist coaches, offer training to their current staff, and get their youth initiative off the ground, they needed £10,000 which they hoped to raise through crowdfunding

Killian Conlan, Ballinderry’s Club Youth Officer, told us, “Crowdfunding came about as result of information received from Sport Northern Ireland that it was partnering with Crowdfunder to offer match funding to sports clubs like ours in Northern Ireland (who had been adversely affected by the COVID pandemic) to help us Build Back Better.”

They offered an array of rewards to appeal to everyone in the community and not just those connected to the club. These included a £10 fuel voucher, a bottle of wine, and pitch advertising for 2022. 

After 28 days, their crowd of 65 supporters successfully raised £11,320 and an estimated £480 in Gift Aid. This included a £5,000 boost from Sport Northern Ireland’s Project Re-Boot: Activate fund which is helping clubs recover from the effects of the pandemic and keep their community active. 

Killian explained, “Unlocking the +Extra funding from Sport Northern Ireland really meant a lot to us. It allowed our club to bring in specialised coaches to not only pass their expertise onto our youth players, but also to ‘train up’ our own volunteer coaches to be the best they can be. It also afforded us the opportunity to purchase some relevant equipment to help our youth develop their skills in our sport.

“The project will have a big impact on our local community as our sports club is embedded in the community and it forms the focal point. Being able to bring to fruition all the intentions we had outlined has created a real ‘feel good’ factor amongst the club, the community and those who helped bring about the success.”

After raising over £11,000 and receiving the £5,000 in +Extra funding from Sport Northern Ireland, we asked Killian for his top tips and advice to inspire other clubs to crowdfund for their goals.

He said, “I feel the range and value of the rewards offered to donors can be vitally important. We considered the rewards we offered to be fairly ‘extravagant’ and we really pushed the boat out. The main two were sponsored, which meant they cost us nothing and the suppliers got loads of publicity. 

“Finally, if you are a sports club with your own grounds then pitchside advertising for a sizable donation can prove very attractive to local businesses. Though you have to market this reward far and wide, so go outside your area, get on the phone, and let businesses know what they can get.”

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could be eligible to unlock +Extra funding for your sports club from Sport Northern Ireland’s Project Re-Boot: Activate fund. 

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