Soccer Tournament Celebrates 38 Years Of Traveller Support Services
More than 30 people participated in a soccer tournament on Thursday to celebrate the provision of training opportunities for the Traveller community in Ennis during the last four decades.
Last week’s 6-a-side tournament at Clare Leisure World was organised by the Congress Information & Opportunities Centre (CIOC), Ennis CDP and Clare County Council, and was supported by Clare Civil Defence and refereeing officials from the Clare and District Soccer League.
Participating teams included students from St Joseph's Education Centre; members of the Traveller Community; communities invited through the Clare Intercultural Network, and members of An Garda Siochána. A perpetual trophy to celebrate the Centre was presented to the winning team, Midnight Bandits, by Triona Lynch, the current Director of St Joseph’s. Deportivo Lack of Talent finished in second place while Cloughleigh Hoops finished in third.
John Mongans, student with St Joseph’s Education Centre, was actively involved in organising this tournament. He commented: “It’s a sad occasion on the closure of the centre but a soccer tournament to mark it is a good way for everyone to celebrate before they go their separate ways”.
Dr Sean Conlan, Education Officer with Co Clare VEC commended the work of the Centre, adding: "There is much good news to report in relation to Traveller Education over the past 4 decades. Nationally, participation and retention of Traveller children at Primary School level has increased from under 4,000 in 1998 to over 8,000 in 2008 and the numbers attending second level has reached 3,000. There are approximately 600 Outreach Programmes and Centres in Ireland such as St. Joseph’s. All of this indicates that considerable progress has been made in this area and St. Joseph’s has contributed in no small way to this success."
Triona Lynch, the current Director of St Joseph’s paid tribute to all those involved in running the Centre, which she said had has provided a place of education for the Traveller Community of Ennis for the past number of years.
“During this time it has evolved as a place where participants learned practical skills and participated in various programmes including the Leaving Certificate Applied, FETAC programmes, Youth & Community work and literacy skills training. There has always been an active interaction between the various local and national community based organisations and the Centre. This dialogue and open door policy fostered community based education in areas such as Health, Jobs Initiatives, work experience and money management,”
On speaking with participants about the value of education in their lives they agreed that the centre offered them a safe place in a culturally inclusive environment to further their education and personal development. One learner explained “I had never used a computer before I started here and now I love it. I’m nearly as good as my children now, I’m not afraid to learn new things anymore”.
Nicola Cullinan, Coordinator of the Clare Traveller Plan, 2010 – 2013 with Clare County Council also commended the work of the Centre as it was actively involved in supporting and promoting actions within the Clare Traveller Plan 2010 – 2013.
“In order to mark this occasion, the first of a number of events being organised includes a 6 a-side Soccer tournament, which took place at Clare Leisure World on Thursday”, Ms. Cullinan concluded.
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Further information is available from Mark Dunphy, Dunphy PR on 086-8534900 or Nicola Cullinan, Co-ordinator, Clare Traveller Plan, 2010 – 2013, 065 – 6846428
- High resolution images are available on request.