The More Than A Club Programme was launched at Dalymount Park today by the Football Association of Ireland, Bohemian FC and the Bohemian Foundation.
The More than a Club Programme is a partnership between Bohemian FC and the FAI with the objective of creating a sustainable social enterprise in our community, which will develop and deliver life sciences and sporting programmes to promote social inclusion.
This programme is funded through the European Regional Development Fund’s Ireland-Wales Programme and will be rolled out by two League of Ireland clubs in Ireland (Bohemian FC and Cork City FC) as well as two clubs in Wales (Conwy Borough FC and Haverfordwest County AFC), for an initial 18 months.
Each club will be provided with two full-time and one part-time staff for the duration of the project.
Carina O’Brien and Shane Fox will be working full-time with Bohemians, while Ger Coughlan has take up the part-time role.
Programmes which will be delivered from February 2018 will engage with all age groups in our diverse community including:
• Numeracy through football with primary school children
• Run the Club with young people aged 16-24
• Sporting Memories with older people
• Walking Football with people with disabilities
• Football playing and coaching in Mountjoy Prison
It is envisaged that the More than a Club Programme will build on the success of the Bohemian Foundation and enable it to expand its reach throughout our community.
Bohemian FC President Chris Brien said: “We are proud of what we do in the area.
“We have been involved with the northside community for 128 years and as a members-owned club, we are very aware of our responsibilities to that community.
“The Bohemian Foundation has carried out a lot of work with minimal resources in terms of finance and people.
“We’ve carried out weekly walking football sessions in Cabra with children with autism and adults with mental health issues, we have walking football in Ballymun for unemployed and retired people.
“In Mountjoy Prison, we run football coaching and competitions as well as comedy workshops with the prisoners. We’ve also run the comedy workshops for homeless people with Focus Ireland.
“We visit schools regularly to advise children of healthy eating habits among other things.
“We don’t do this to feel good about ourselves. We as a club are in and of the north Dublin community and we have a duty to contribute to that community.
“We have a duty to help improve the situations of those people living in the area from which we garner our support.
“We hope that this partnership will allow us to move to another level so we can expand and build upon the work we’ve already been doing.”
FAI Director of Competitions Fran Gavin said: “We expect that the project will empower football clubs to recognise and utilise the powerful attraction of football and the value of their own club brand locally to promote social good.
“It will encourage them to work in partnerships with key agencies and groups with an interest in community development to deliver important social programmes.
“In the process, we will see the clubs evolving as more valuable community entities and becoming more relevant to local people.
“The FAI is delighted to be able to facilitate this opportunity for Bohemians and the Bohemian Foundation.
“We believe that if football clubs engage with their community in a more inclusive way, it can positively affect the club’s sustainability.
“We hope this model being developed in cooperation with Bohemians can act as a flagship model, which other SSE Airtricity League clubs can look to emulate.
“Following engagement with all SSE Airtricity League clubs, Bohemians and Cork City were invited to participate in this pilot project because we believe that both clubs have a genuine appetite to broaden their footprint in the local community.
“The Bohemian Foundation’s community engagement policy has already made a difference in many people’s lives.
“Over the next five years, Dalymount Park will be transformed into a modern facility which will cater for the requirements of a successful SSE Airtricity League Premier Division club and, just as importantly, it will also cater for the needs of the local community, ensuring the club is placed at the centre of its community and fans.”