General Manager Paul Johnston believes that Dundalk FC’s involvement in the Dundalk Soccer Project highlights the club’s desire to be a vital part of the local community.
The initiative will see 40 participants aged between 16-25 from the the Cox’s Demesne and Muirhevnamor regions take part in football related courses that lead to qualifications such as the FAI Kick Start 1 and 2, FAI Youth Cert, FAI Referees Course, Youth Leadership training and First Aid.
The goal of the programme is that participants will then take these qualifications and use them to the benefit of their community.
The stakeholders in the initiative include the FAI, Cox’s Demesne Youth & Community (linking in Redeemer Celtic FC), Muirhevnamor Community Council (linking in Muirhevnamor FC), the Community Garda and Dundalk FC.
And Johnston said the Oriel Park club was only too delighted to be a part of it.
“Sometimes clubs talk about being a community but they don’t really do anything about it. This is core community stuff. It’s exactly what we want to do.”, he said.
“There are a lot of people involved in this between Redeemer Celtic, Muirhevnamor, The House, the FAI and so on but it takes everybody coming together to make it work. It’s a really good community project for us to be involved in.
“We’ve been doing work in the local community for quite a while”, added Johnston. “You build up networks and contacts over time. There is a lot of people doing work in local areas and when Clodagh O’Mahony (The House) and Vincy McGrory (came to talk to us about it we were delighted to get on board.”
Cox’s Demesne and Muirhevnamor are both hotbeds when it comes to Dundalk FC support and Johnston is hoping that the project will help strengthen the links between the club and those areas.
“We see people from those communities every night at Oriel Park when Dundalk are playing”, he said. “They are here in numbers, and have been for decades so to continue on with the work that has been done in the past by getting the two communities together is brilliant.”
The football element of the courses will be held in Oriel Park and the FAI, along with Dundalk FC will get involved to help in all aspects of the coaching.
Integral to that part of the programme will be the involvement of the first-team players and manager Stephen Kenny who Johnston said was a keen advocate of such initiatives.
“With all of the clubs Stephen has been involved with, you think Longford Town and Derry City in particular, the core values have been community”, said Johnston.
“He is very much behind it and he gave us plenty of advice on what he has gone through, especially in Derry where they have a number of these programmes on the go.
“It’s also great for the people of the community to get the chance to speak to Stephen”, he added. “He is very approachable when it comes to helping people in their local community.”