GWEEDORE Celtic have been named the Aviva Club of the Month for November by a judging panel from the FAI, in light of their outstanding work carried out at grassroots level.
The club set up a youth academy in June this year and have grown rapidly in such a short space of time.
Academy Director Shane Barr has galvanised the club’s youth structure and has 21 coaches working with various underage levels.
Their new venture received a massive boost when Barr, who is currently completing his UEFA B Licence in Dublin, was put in contact with the head of Valencia’s football academy, Carlos de Lera Bartrina.
The pair talked on several occasions and after being impressed by Barr’s enthusiasm and aspirations for the youth academy in Gweedore, de Lera Bartrina and his assistant, Juan Vincente Da Silva, arrived in Derrybeg last month for a weekend of seminars and practical sessions with both the academy coaches and players that included an in-depth explanation of how Valencia’s academy operates.
The ties between the two clubs will continue to grow over the coming years in which Gweedore are hoping to make significant progress with their detailed 5-year coaching plan.
Such foresight and initiative clearly stood out for the FAI when they were selecting their winners for the Aviva Club of the Month award as Gweedore saw off competition from some 240 other clubs around the country to pick up the prize for November.
“I was told by various people that it would be worth applying for so I went ahead and applied for it a while after we set up the youth academy. It’s really nice to get the recognition for all the hard work and effort we’re putting in,” said Barr.
He added: “I think it’s for the work we’ve carried out with the academy and brining Valencia over was probably a big pull as well.
The idea of promoting grassroots with such a structured programme is obviously something that caught the FAI’s eye.
“It’s a fantastic coup for the club and it comes at a great time, too, because in January we’ll be celebrating our 100 year anniversary so it’s perfect timing to receive such an award from the FAI.”
The Aviva Club of the Month, in conjunction with The Irish Daily Star and the Carlton Hotel, Tyrellstown, recognises some of the finest grassroots clubs in the country through a series of monthly prizes culminating in the Aviva Club of the Year Award, at the FAI’s annual “Festival of Football”, which takes place at the FAI AGM.
The monthly winners receive a plaque and a cash prize of €1,500 at a presentation ceremony at The Carlton Hotel, Tyrellstown, where they will receive their award from the members of the judging panel. The overall winner of the Aviva Club of the Year receives a prize of €5,000 and an Aviva Club of the Year plaque.
The clubs are judged on six different criteria, including administration, coaching, participation numbers, performance and contribution to the community.
Gweedore Celtic will receive their cash prize at a presentation at the Carlton Hotel, Tyrellstown on Friday, January 11.