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Newpark Hotel
Co. Kilkenny

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Newpark Hotel Kilkenny and GAA All-Stars step up for Ugandan GAA Appeal
The team aims to raise €20,000 for a new pitch, clubhouse and kitchen and plans to run training blitz
 Wed 14th December 2022

The 4-star Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny has launched a fundraising campaign with All-Star County players Mikey Butler and Aidan Fogarty to help a fledgling GAA club in Uganda that put a call out for GAA equipment.

The Newpark Hotel Kilkenny to Kampala fundraiser aims to raise at least €20,000 to ensure that Uganda GAA can continue to provide equipment and dinner for each child after training, with proceeds also going towards securing final payment for 3 acres of land for a GAA training pitch and clubhouse on the outskirts of Kampala.

Upon completion, this pitch will hold two records before a ball is kicked; it will be the first full-size GAA pitch on the African continent and the highest altitude GAA pitch in the world, constructed on the banks of Lake Victoria. The club’s long-term goal is to incorporate the great community spirit that runs through every GAA club, thereby establishing a sustainable Ugandan GAA Club that will nurture a love of Gaelic games and provide a safe and healthy environment for thousands of Ugandan children long into the future. A significant part of the clubhouse will be a kitchen where meals will be cooked for every training session.

In addition, Newpark Hotel is sponsoring retired Kilkenny GAA All-Star and Dancing with the Stars legend Aidan Fogarty and Assistant Manager at Newpark Hotel’s Escape Health Club Sinead Brennan (an avid Gaelic Football player and Irish dancer) to go to Uganda for a training blitz with the Kids ahead of St Patrick’s Day and to coincide with the All-Uganda GAA Championships in March 2023. Promoting gender parity in Uganda’s GAA club is a cornerstone of the club, and having Sinead lead several training sessions, will instil confidence in the little girls that are still too shy to train with the boys.

Commenting, Aidan Fogarty said, “We’re looking forward to working with this new Ugandan GAA Club to show the young players new skills, how to use the equipment accurately, and also to give them a confidence boost.”

In a bid to bring as much exposure as possible to the fundraising efforts of the hotel, current senior panel stalwart Mikey Butler is also showing his support. Commenting, he said, “This is a fantastic initiative by the Newpark Hotel that will not only foster a love of the Gaelic games and Irish culture internationally but positively impact children’s lives. I would encourage as many people as possible to make a donation towards the new pitch, clubhouse and kitchen.”

The Newpark team have set a goal of raising €20,000 through raffles, fundraisers and sponsorship. The wider public is encouraged to get involved by showcasing their GAA skills in a short video clip online to encourage sponsorship linking with @UgandaGaelic #UgandaGaelic. Donations can be made via idonate.

Paul Beehan, General Manager of Newpark Hotel, said, “We first heard of the story when news broke in recent weeks of a group of youngsters living in Wakiso, near Kampala in Uganda, who had stumbled on the Irish national sports of hurling and Gaelic football through YouTube and TikTok videos and started to emulate what they had seen. As everyone in Kilkenny and Newpark Hotel is so passionate about GAA, we had to do something, so we reached out to Irish contacts and authorities in Uganda and were connected with the Irish society in Uganda and with Moses Amanyire and Robert Bakaze, Ugandan friends who established the club for the kids after discovering and being impressed by videos of the Irish sport on YouTube in 2019.”

Moses, who now acts as the club’s trainer, is a PE teacher and initially introduced hurling and Gaelic football to his school on a trial basis, and since then, it has grown as word got around of how much the children enjoyed playing. Realising that the homemade Ugandan hurls made from Mahogany were unsuitable, the club called for “previously loved” GAA equipment from wherever they could source it, which was publicised here in Ireland by John Walsh of the Irish Society in Uganda.

Paul continued, “The joy they have found in Gaelic games really struck a chord with us at Newpark Hotel, and we want to do what we can to ensure these children have what they need to continue playing. As a family-friendly hotel, we are all about making young people happy, and if we can make some dreams come true in the process, sharing some Irish culture and kindness overseas, then all the better.”

Galwegian John Walsh, who is part of the Irish Society in Uganda, has a leg in both cultures, being the dad of two half Ugandan half Irish little girls, said “We are incredibly grateful to the Newpark Hotel for taking on our cause and raising much-needed funds. I was fortunate to grow up in Ireland and surrounded by the opportunity to play sports on my doorstep. Unfortunately, the access Irish children have to sports facilities are a luxury in Uganda that very few children have access to. We want to do what we can to change that in Uganda, and with the tremendous support from Newpark hotel, we will be able to finally begin to build a home for the club and expand Gaelic Games to thousands of children here in Uganda for years to come”.

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