Shane O Neill’s ladies senior football team shall be travelling to China for a two-week period, December 29th until January 11th.
This is the first time a GAA club team has been invited to visit China to demonstrate and coach the sport.
The trip is facilitated and funded through the Confucius Institute, based in UUJ, a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education.
This visit is classed as an academic and cultural exchange under the Study in China programme.
The travelling party consisting of 26 players and 4 mentors, have a busy itinerary ahead of them once they arrive into Beijing on Saturday 30th, including being received at the Irish Embassy.
The group has 4 days of guided sightseeing planned, with visits to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, Summer Palace and Tiananmen square being arranged.
While the cold weather at this time of year prohibits outdoor games, contact has been made with Beijing GAA club and we hope to visit socially at least.
No doubt there will also be time set aside for the cities amazing shopping experience.
The next stage of the trip involves taking the bullet train to the city of Wuhan, where the group will be based in the nearby Lambhorgini Hotel.
Each morning the team will take part in workshops at Wuhan University, learning about Chinese language, culture, history and contemporary society, including educational and business structures.
They will also gain an introduction to martial arts and other popular Chinese sports and customs.
A visit to a local High School has also been added to the schedule while in Wuhan.
The afternoons will be spent demonstrating and coaching ladies Gaelic football to the Chinese students.
With several of the panel having senior Inter county experience, such as double All Star winner Aimee Mackin, her sister Blaithin, Moya Feehan, Louise Kenny and Aoibheann Jones, plus several county underage players, we would hope to demonstrate a high standard of skill and technique, while introducing the rudimentary skills to what we are assured, will be a fascinated participant group.
A one-day trip to Three Gorge Dam at Yitchang will precede the scheduled journey back home from Wuhan on January 11th.
This is a historic and unique visit to promote our own sport and traditions and also represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience and learn so much about this rich culture and fascinating country.
All of us are honoured and grateful to have been chosen as the first club to receive this official invitation from the Chinese authorities and also so appreciative of the support from Confucius Institute Director Yan Liu and her staff for making this possible.
We see this as an investment in the future reputation of our club and even more so in our players, an outstanding group of young ladies, who, while enjoying considerable success on the field in recent years, have always been excellent ambassadors for our club, county, province and now country.
There has been a huge amount of preparation work put in over the past few weeks to have everything in place. The visa process has now been completed, with weekly classes in Mandarin Chinese ongoing also.
We look forward to this exciting journey and shall endeavour to promote our games and traditions to the highest possible measure.