Fun Direction at O’Connell School

Northside girls enjoy new sports initiative

This article has been extracted from

•Local children try out their camogie and agility skills at the Fun Direction event.

A COACHING project aimed at introducing organised sport to north inner city girls between the ages of five and eight years was launched at St Mary’s Youth Club in East Wall recently.

The not-for-profit venture, called Fun Direction, has already delivered coaching to 40 girls from East Wall and Fairview in athletics, camogie, soccer, Gaelic football, cricket, rugby and karate. The girls have also had lessons in throwing the Frisbee.

The response from participants was enthusiastically loud and the organisers are hopeful that the experience will sow the seeds for significant sporting participation for north inner city girls over the next decade.

The project is the brainchild of Belvedere FC academy coach, Ciaran Duffy, who enjoyed a long career in domestic football with UCD, St Francis, Bluebell and Belgrove. Once a trialist for Manchester United alongside David Beckham, Ciaran recognises the importance of sporting opportunities in child development.

He conceived Fun Direction after his own research suggested less than 10 per cent of girls in the north inner city had played any organised sport. He has spent that last few months pulling together all the resources required to bring the project to fruition.

All the girls will have the opportunity to participate in an ongoing once-weekly multi sport activity in their own community. Ciaran believes these opportunities have been denied to girls in disadvantaged areas due to a number of factors.

He established Fun Direction with two elements in mind – providing fun and giving direction.

“It’s not rocket science,” says Ciaran. “There must be fun, because if not, they won’t come back nor should we expect them to.

“We should be able to quietly achieve our own coaching objectives which centre on agility, balance and coordination.”

The project applies Coaching Ireland’s Lifelong Involvement in Sport and Physical Activity (LISPA) framework.

It aims to provide a good foundation while exposing kids to as many sports and activities as possible before they decide to specialise in later years.

Ciaran believes girls are more likely to play sports if they pick them up early and have the fundamental movement skills to apply themselves better to any sport.

“The biggest reward for coaches at this age group is happy faces,” he says.

“I also love seeing the small incremental improvements in agility, skills and confidence day-by-day and week-by-week.”

Of all the sports the 40 girls have experienced during the venture so far, the most positive reaction has been to the Karate session with Brian Carroll and assistants from Larkhill Karate Club, Santry.

“The squeals of laughter were infectious despite the high intensity workout,” says Ciaran.

Alongside the sport, Fun Direction is conscious of the need to provide some downtime for the girls. Music has been incorporated into the activities through daily guitar and sing-a-long sessions.

The project also has a major theme of healthy eating at the core which was delivered by Dr Lorraine Brennan and her colleagues from the UCD Institute of Food and Heath.

Ciaran says he is indebted to a number of people who helped deliver the project, including Maureen O’Sullivan TD (Ind) and the board of St Mary’s Youth Club; Principal Gerry Duffy and the board of O’Connell’s School; Aideen O’Connor from the Dublin City Sports Network; Tesco which provided the healthy lunch each day; and Aine Fanning from St Vincent’s Camogie, who is also a teacher at North William Street Girls’ School.

Other sponsors included the IFSC Inner City Trust, Smurfit Kappa Group, RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, First Ireland Risk Management and Prime Property Management

You can learn more about Fun Direction on its Facebook page of the same name.

Dublin People (2014) ‘Fun Direction, Northside girls enjoy new sports initiative’, Available at: . [25 August 2014]