THE Na Rossa club have launched a novel event to raise funds for the construction of a clubhouse at their new grounds at Madavagh.
Na Rossa were formidable opponents at their Dooey base for many years, but it has been apparent for a long time that they needed more up-to-date facilities.
A fine new pitch has been set up at a good location and now it is time for Phase 2 of their development.
Na Rossa require a clubhouse with dressing rooms and a gym, and they have come up with the concept of a ‘helicopter drop’ to raise much-needed finance.
The organisers are hoping to hold the event in the Autumn, and the plan is to get a county star to throw the balls onto the club field.
“The pitch has been finished for the last number of months,” said Na Rosaa clubman, Packie McDyre, at a Zoom launch on Thursday evening.
“The next project now is the dressing rooms which is the reason we are starting this fundraiser called the helicopter drop.
“It’s a very big project for Na Rossa as we need to sell 3,168 tickets.
“Each ticket represents a part on the new pitch, and we are hoping to drop eight footballs from a helicopter.
“If a football settles on your square, then you will be a prize winner.
“The prizes are up to €32,000, with two €10,000 prizes, and six €2000 prizes.
“It’s a big undertaking but we hope it will help to deliver our dressing rooms.”
When all the tickets are sold, the pitch at Madavagh will be lined out appropriately and each ticket will represent a two metre square.
A computerised programme will be used to allocate squares at random to all the ticket buyers. Independent referees will be brought in to oversee that process, and everyone will know where their square is before the big drop takes place.
Eight footballs will disembark in total, with four in each half of the field so it will be done fairly, and the helicopter will approach the pitch at different angles, so everyone will stand an equal chance of collecting the winnings.
Felix Melly does a lot of work at underage level for Na Rossa, and he was the man who came up with the idea of the helicopter drop.
He said: “It had to be something relating to the pitch and we felt we needed a fundraiser that would be unique and different.
“It is a big ask but we are hoping that everyone rows in behind it and gets involved.
“There is a lot of interest there so far and hopefully that continues.”
Melly estimates that the club’s membership has risen by approximately 20 to 30% since they moved to Madavagh from their old grounds at Dooey.
However, Club Chairman Declan Bonner admits that things are still very tough for the club.
They have lost a huge amount of numbers to emigration and just making sure they get fifteen players for games at senior level is a challenge that must clubs in Donegal don’t have to face.
Bonner and his committee are doing everything they can to keep the show on the road.
“It has been well documented that we have been struggling for numbers,” said the Donegal senior manager.
“There was a stage last year or 18 months ago when the lads were over training in Dooey and all that they could muster up was eight or nine.
“On the same night in Perth, there was 12 ex-Na Rossa lads training together, and they were all around the late twenties/early thirties mark.
“We have had a lot of difficulties in recent years and if we hadn’t moved over to Madavagh about 18 months ago, we probably wouldn’t have a club.
“It has generated a bit of life into the area even though we are still struggling with numbers.
“Even the numbers we have coming through over the next few years are very light. You’re talking about four or five players from Under 14 up to Under 17, and none of those can come in this year.
“We’re hoping that some families might move in to the area in the coming years, and there is a really good pitch there now and soon we will have a very good facility with dressing rooms and a gym.”
To help promote the draw, Rosses radio DJ and Na Rossa clubman Tony McGettigan is due to start weekly podcasts with ex-players.
He will be starting from 1976 the year the club was formed and will go right up to the present day with players talking about the best 15 players they have played against amongst other related topics.
Tickets will be available from club members and local stores, and the club are in partnership with an online platform called ‘Rallyup’ where supporters can log on to buy tickets.
It takes a big collective effort to drive an initiative like this and the club have put together a 35 strong team made up of locals and ex-Na Rossa players/supporters from all parts of the world to push the fundraiser.
Bonner said: “We have a team put together from all parts of the world helping us to sell these tickets.
“There is around 35 people on board from America to Australia to New Zealand and around the globe that is helping out, and they are ex-players and ex-committee members.
“It has brought the club together on a global basis and even our AGM had a good (virtual) turnout this year.
“It’s a novel idea and great for the community. Our aim is to keep the club going and we will do all that we can to ensure that.”
To buy a square for the fundraiser go to https://go.rallyup.com/narossa.