The GAA issued an exciting new health challenge to its members at the launch of ‘Off the Booze and On the Ball’ in Croke Park today (Tuesday, November 22). This fun challenge with a healthy twist invites participants to abstain from alcohol for the month of January and in doing so seek sponsorship to go towards their local GAA club. Participants are also encouraged to engage in some new exercises that help them reach their recommended weekly activity levels during the month, and hopefully throughout 2012. The challenge was extended personally by Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, Criostóir Ó Cuana, who launched the event with Minister of State at the Department of Health, Róisín Shortall. The initiative is being driven by the Association’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) Programme ‘ a joint initiative with the HSE that aims to reduce the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol and other substances. ‘January is a month of the year when the commencement of good habits comes into sharp focus and twinning a reduction in alcohol intake with increased physical activity makes perfect sense after the possible excesses of the festive season,’ said the President of the GAA. ‘This scheme also offers members the chance to generate funds for their local clubs through sponsorship so the benefits for those involved are plain for all to see.’ Minister Shortall added ‘The history of the GAA, from a small organisation which grew from a meeting in a hotel in 1884 to the huge Association it now is with a presence in every community can be a metaphor for what we are launching here today. Everything begins with small steps and I am confident that this programme will find its way into every club, every community and every county in Ireland. Alcohol abuse presents one of the greatest challenges our country faces and I am delighted to see an organisation as renowned and respected as the GAA take a lead on this issue and I hope other sporting associations will adopt similar schemes’ Crossmaglen’s Oisín McConville and Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea and Alan Freeman were on-hand to support the launch, as were members of the Melvin Gaels club, Leitrim Intermediate champions 2010. Their senior panel is going ‘Off the Booze and On the Ball’ come January. ‘It’s a good way to kick start the New Year and it gives the lads a challenge to engage in together,’ explains their Manager Billy Gavigan. ‘We’re back in senior championship in 2011 and for the first time the squad is engaging in a strength and conditioning programme in January to complete the activity side of the challenge.’ Club Treasurer Joe McCarron added that any money raised by the players would be a welcome boost to the club. ‘Fundraising is becoming more and more challenging and new, interesting ideas are always welcome.’ Individuals and panel members can sign up at www.gaa.ie/asap where they will receive a sponsorship card and an information pack containing details on health, exercise and diet. All participating clubs will be in with a chance to win a training session with one of Ireland’s leading high performance coaches or one of the country’s leading sports nutritionists in 2012.
Off the Booze & On the Ball, which is endorsed and supported by the GPA, fully supports the RSA’s road safety message and the Ulster Council’s ‘Live to Play’ programme and participants are encouraged to make themselves available as a designated driver for friends or family during their month of abstinence.

All County ASAP Officers are organising a local launch. If clubs could work with their ASAP Officer on this that would be great to spread the word re this initiative. If you have any queries please contact Colin Regan ASAP Officer 087-2945705. Email: colin.regan GAA.ie.

 

 

22-Nov-11 by Colette Fox – PRO