Two years ago, Offaly native Aisling Daly moved to the big apple. Buried in her genes was a love and passion for Camogie which began at the tender age of nine originating from her club St.Rynaghs located in County Offaly.
Aisling’s experience of playing and winning both underage and adult titles accelerated her into the world of management while she balanced her college life when she was at home in Ireland. Fast forward to 2015, Aisling is currently the Vice-Chairperson for St.Brigids and the Camogie Scheduler for the Gaelic for Girls programme which hopes to organise their first spring league event vs Rockland this year. Progressing up the ladder in 2014, Aisling was the Camogie Development Officer for both St.Brigids & Gaelic 4 Girls in New York. To Aisling, Camogie provides a sense of community, belonging, and a social place to be while being prepared for life. By teaching these girls that if they obey rules and if they work hard it pays off in the long run, Camogie offers much more than fitness and sport to a player and Aisling hopes that young players can see this as they grow too.
When Aisling arrived in the city that never sleeps, she immediately looked for a Camogie team to make friends and become part of a network of people who had a goal. Unfortunately there was no adult Camogie team to play with, so Aisling set her sights on building Camogie in her local club St.Brigids based in the Bronx which was the only Camogie club in New York. If she couldn’t play she would help those who could and hopefully educate children to what it feels like to be part of an Irish GAA community. Luckily for Aisling she found a welcoming and caring GAA club.
“I think that if I hadn’t fallen into place with St.Brigids I wouldn’t have lasted through my first year in New York” she believes “The families that are part of St.Brigids have been so welcoming to me, they make you at home. It’s a great feeling when you actually are so far away from home”.
At the time there was one Camogie trainer for all age, this dedicated person was Geraldine Lavery who was originally from Armagh but lived in New York for almost 20 years. Geraldine also served as the Camogie chairperson and has been coaching under age since October 2009. Gerdaline was more than happy to see another Irish face to help train teams.
“Having Aisling join the St. Brigids program has been a godsend. Her commitment to camogie and the development of Irish culture extends far beyond her time on the field. She assess the individual player and develops a skills program based on their needs. She introduces the players not only to the skills of the sport but also to the history and the importance of camogie as the National Sport for women in Ireland. ”
Using her experience from training underage at home, Aisling offered to help Geraldine to coach teams in 2013. As a result the combined team of Geraldine and Aisling St.Brigids NYC had a very successful year.
Last year at the 2014 CYC Geraldine was interviewed by Jerome Quinn
Similar to the feile, North America and Canada play the CYC or the Continental Youth Competition which is the biggest youth GAA tournament outside of Ireland. Each year every underage club from North America & Canada compete in a four day tournament event where hundreds of games take place. Last year there were 3,500 kids competed in the CYC which was hosted in New York. The four day tournament oozes Irishness beginning with a parades lead by bagpipes playing Irish songs similar to the Feile parade with over 200 teams marching proudly wearing their team colours.
In the Aisling’s time as a trainer, St.Brigids has been very successful in the CYC. The New York side won U10’s, U12’s & U14’s titles for Camogie in 2013 and U8’s, U10’s and U12’s in 2014. Winning is beneficial for the club but having an Irish coach offers young American’s a sample of the Irish culture. Hearing the Irish songs at the CYC, along with the national anthem while the Tri-colour flies high are all symbols which Aisling teaches her players at each training. She passes on Irish culture far away from home such as manners and stories of the country houses surrounded by green fields and the feile competitions for u14’s around Ireland.
Last year St.Brigid’s expanded immensely with 3 u10 teams. This alone shows the growth of the club but also the way the Irish culture has spread to American natives who want to play and learn about Irish games. New York sends a feile team home for ladies football each year and Ailsing hopes one day this will also include camogie.
“Hopefully in the next few years we can continue to grow the Camogie club, to where we would have minor teams & a big goal of mine would be to bring a Feile team home. Our running joke is that our current U8 team will be “2020 Feile Champs”
Although Aisling has only leaped across the pond, it is important to remember those volunteering to promote our games and culture away from home. Her hard work along with the St.Brigids club has developed an interest in Irish sport but furthermore learning about who we are and our national games. Her final comment was too encourage people to get involved and train young girls at home and abroad.
“They love Camogie now & it’s so cool to watch them enjoying it so much. I’d love to see more girls my age getting involved in coaching, both here & back home, if we all gave an hour or 2 to coaching a week (which when you think about it is very little) with our own clubs, imagine how much the sport would grow? My idea always was that people took time out of their lives to teach me & I loved it so much growing up, that it makes absolute sense for me to give back & coach the sport now.”