A wise Belgium GAA man once referenced an even wiser woman (actually he referenced her a number of times, but she is very wise, so that's alright). This wise woman stood tall, with her hand on her hip, and spoke about Belgium GAA as a club that was developing into a community, a home away from home that looks after its members and acts as a source of support, solace and friendship, in good times and in bad.
In good times, we all know how easy it is to slap each other on the back, sit back with a satisfied smile and talk about how great we are. Back in 2010, the wise man, who needs no introduction here, once noted that "The club is living in the good times. It’s never been so good in fact. Every new player who crosses our path is grabbed by the furore and throws themselves right in...Maybe we should just kick back and enjoy these moments but if we were to do that, we would stop driving on. If we stop driving on, we’ll slow down and lose ground. Building from our position of strength is key".
People come to Belgium. Some stay, some leave, some are injured/have babies. Times don't necessarily change for better or worse, but they change and the club and each team within it has to adapt accordingly.
One thing that never changes is the need to fundraise. This year, we have been lucky enough to find a permanent training ground in the VUB (scroll down for maps), but this luxury comes at a cost. The fundraising strategy for Belgium GAA has been one big huge blowout at the start of the year, with the St. Patrick's Day Festival, held in conjunction with FC Irlande, followed by individual code fundraisers. This past weekend saw an number of events take place that demonstrate investment in the club, in its economic and social development. First off, the Race Night, held by the footballers, on Saturday 2nd June, in De Valera's Irish Bar (co-sponsor of Belgium GAA):
Click here to access the programme in all its glory
They say that if you remember the 60s, you weren't really there. The same can be said for the now-annual Race Night which, in the steady hands of Colin "Ringmaster" Byrne, has become one of the most lucrative fundraising developments for the club.
Sleep dancing with a mic: a new Colin Byrne speciality
The vast majority of the work was done in advance of the night itself, with horses bought and sold, sponsorship offered, programmes and posters printed, and hype raised. In 2011, the Race Night was held on a weeknight, which worked out well because everyone was there on time after work. This year, we took a chance on a Saturday, which meant that everyone took their sweet time getting to Devs. Nonetheless, as the evening passed, bets increased, odds were bounding all over the place, and MC Church, perched on his stage with crutch and microphone in hand, became more and more loquacious.
The 2011 betting timetable ended with a pre-recorded Belgium GAA Champion Chase:
If you haven't watched this video yet, you are missing out in a big way. Go on...click it!!
The 2012 betting timetable also had a pre-recorded video competition, The Belgium GAA Kick Off, featuring Belgium GAA's Kicking Kings. Update (video added):
It was one of those nights that showed off De Valera's as the perfect location for such an occasion: with TVs on which to watch the races (and a couple of matches), space for bettors to rush the stage to make bets and collect money, and plenty of helpful bar staff to help drown the sorrows of those who managed to bet on every single race and not win a cent.
With an estimated profit of €2,000 going to the club, the gentlemen of Belgium GAA did well. They won't be sitting back, needless to say, but can spend the summer running around the pitch in VUB, enjoying the astroturf, changing rooms with showers and toilets, and even floodlights, safe in the knowledge that they have made the future of the club a little brighter. Thanks lads!
We train at No. 6 (rugby pitch) - click the maps for more details.