The Foundation revisited Ireland for the third time in as many years in October 2015 to continue to build partnerships with community run and grassroots football clubs in the region.
Following successful team ups with longstanding partners, Active Communities Network in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and new relationships with Ballina Town FC in Ballina Co Mayo in the West, the programme ventured to the East Coast of Ireland to work with Ardee Celtic in Co Louth.
Ardee Celtic were officially founded in 1992. At that time the club had just two adult teams but have since grown to their current roster of 2 senior teams and over 20 schoolboys and schoolgirls teams plus a hugely successful under 8’s Little Kickers Academy.
In 2005 the club began playing on their purpose-built six-acre site at Townparks just outside Ardee – a facility widely regarded as one of the most impressive in the North East region and played host to the Palace Foundation coaching and development sessions during the visit.
As a continuation of previous visits to Ireland the Crystal Palace FC team offered coaching support, player and coach development and participation opportunities alongside Ardee Celtic staff to young people in Louth – plus matches and exchanges with other partners in North and South of Ireland.
Back in October 2015 Palace for Life Foundation ambassador for Ireland and former Republic of Ireland international, Eddie McGoldrick, joined the Director of Sport Development and UEFA A License Coach, Gary Mulcahey, in a visit to Ardee which formally launched the programme.
Both Eddie and Gary have headed the Crystal Palace FC cohort in previous visits and the partnership is an active reflection of the growing relationship the club has with oversees partners.
The Crystal Palace FC Foundation and charity Active Communities Network are looking to build a legacy in the region where the young people of the project become direct beneficiaries of social inclusion through sport and the pathways of participation.
By training and upskilling coaches and working with young people of all abilities the partnership aims to develop and support young coaches and players alike to grow and broaden the game.
Conrad Clinton, Club Secretary, Ardee Celtic FC, said: “The club are obviously hugely excited by the partnership with the Palace for Life Foundation. It became clear during discussions with the Foundation that they were really interested in a partnership of substance.
They’re incredibly keen to make a difference to our club and have an impact on helping us improve coaching techniques, which in turn improves what we can offer to children in the Ardee and Mid-Louth region.
We’ve always considered ourselves a progressive club and this partnership is great recognition for the work that has been done by so many over the years and is a real lift for the coaches and young players that really buy into what we do.
We’ve been to visit other partner clubs, Ballina Town in County Mayo, to get a feel for what the partnership means and how it can impact on a club. We were hugely impressed by what we saw.”
Conor Lynch Ardee Celtic FC representative, said: “I’ve been a Crystal Palace fan for over 25 years and am heavily involved in the Irish branch of the Crystal Palace Supporters Club. Alongside Ardee Celtic they’re one of my real passions.
Their own youth academy is renowned for bringing through top class players and we be hope that some of that expertise rubs off on us.”