by Martin McKeogh | June 14th, 2022
The debate around the inter-county and club split season is a hot topic with some prominent pundits at the moment, but one fixture that endures the test of time is Cumann na mBunscol. A holy grail in some schools, a rite of passage for players (and teachers even!) and ultimately a source of great memories and stories for the boys and girls involved. Some of the biggest GAA, LGFA and Camogie stars first showed their promise in Cumann na mBunscol. You can be sure when the All Stars are handed out later this year, someone somewhere will be able to remember what these All Stars did or didn’t do in a Cumann na mBunscol game.
For these boys and girls, Cumann na mBunscol games are the epi-centre of school life for those few weeks every year. If a teacher tells a pupil they need to practice handwriting, I’m sure they will give it a go, for a time at least. However, if the teacher tells the same pupil they will be hitting the frees or taking line balls for the game, they’d stay practicing until the balls are lost or their parents once manicured lawn is dug up. Some things are just the be all and end all for kids - in their eyes anyway!
In Allianz’s and Cumann na mBunscol’s eyes the be all and end all is inclusion, participation and enjoyment. While it is great to see the wonderful scores and flashes of brilliance, it is really about the smiles, the effort, the memories, the sportsmanship and the friendships. It’s about all walks of life coming together to represent their school and their friends. We always see some great pictures of a winning team member consoling a losing team player. The disappointment of a young boy or girl is always hard to watch but simple true acts of kindness make us all feel better. It’s no wonder schools want their pupils involved and Cumann na mBunscol participation gets stronger every year.
Inclusion is more pertinent than ever right now. Pupils lost out on the occasion of playing Cumann na mBunscol games in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years. Cumann na mBunscol, to their enduring credit, didn’t want to sit idly by, and hence how Allianz Cumann na mBunscol week started in June 2020. This Gaelic games activities week was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic to provide a focus for Gaelic games and related activities in schools when it was not possible for the school team to take the field.
This year takes on a greater significance, with many schools opening their doors and their hearts to Ukrainian pupils. A trip to Semple Stadium, Wexford Park, Croke Park, Pairc Ui Chaoimh or such might be a stretch too far this year for many of these brave boys and girls, but some will most certainly take the field. We know sport is a fabulous vehicle for integration and GAA, LGFA and Camogie clubs are often to the forefront in all our local communities. Therefore, Allianz, through the local Cuman na mBunscol county boards, are delighted to sponsor 500 footballs, 200 hurleys and 200 sliothars to schools across the country. These will be gifted to Ukrainian refugees to allow them practice their GAA skills and fall in love with our national games. Allianz Cumann na mBunscol week will commence 13th June and the balls and hurleys will be shared out during this week. We at Allianz and Cumann na mBunscol are delighted to facilitate the integration of these children into the school and wider community through participation in Gaelic Games.