IABA/DCC Boxing in the Community Development Officers
AVIVA STADIUM REPORT: July, 2011
Compiled by- Oisin Fagan/Paul Quinn, on behalf of the Boxing Officers
- Programme Statistics
- 72 groups
- 1040 young people
- 76 senior citizens
- 23 special needs participants
The IABA/DCC Boxing in the Community Officers recently collaborated with the management company in the Aviva Stadium, including Stadium Director Martin Murphy, Deputy Operations Manager Frank Maguire and FAI CEO John Delaney. We met and agreed on a fantastic opportunity, which would optimise the use of this fantastic new arena; whilst at the same time, entertaining, educating and most importantly, positively influencing communities in Dublin’s inner city – ALL FREE OF CHARGE! From a boxing perspective, the introduction of young people to our sport was of major concern.
The ‘brain-storming session’ commenced and both parties came up with some good ideas. The Aviva Stadium offered us the Garda Conference Room as our base, located inside the stadium, at the Landsdowne Lane entrance and they granted us full-use of the room, allowing us the authority to design it how we felt would further-enhance our programmes, throughout the whole month of July.
Initially, we sent out information packets to all the youth clubs, summer projects, and recreation centres within the confines of inner-city Dublin, to tell them our ideas and to take bookings for our programme, in 3 x 2 hr sessions, for the month of July. We then sat down and designed our Aviva Stadium Tour/Start-Box/Exhibition Programme and came up with a four-fold strategy, which entailed the following:-
1) THE AVIVA STADIUM TOUR:
First of all, the boxing officers, who included, Oisin Fagan, Michael Carruth, Paul Quinn, Thomas Ahern and Eric Donovan, attended a special tour of the Aviva Stadium held by the Chief Tour-Guide, where we asked questions and took notes about the predominant details of how the stadium was formed and how it was run.
This whole process, of course, was initialised by the demolition of the old Landsdowne Road and reconstructed to the all new, ‘grade one’ arena, known as The Aviva Stadium. The information was vast and the tour included a trip to the Media Centre, where the journalists would assemble before the game and prior to entering the auditorium for press conferences. This auditorium was one of our stops as ‘new tour-guides’, where we took our groups to watch a 12-minute DVD, accompanied by some powerful music; all encompassing, the demolition-footage of a ailing, old-fashioned Landsdowne Road grounds, yet climaxing, with the bright, new Aviva Stadium, (which aptly means “spring time” or“young grain”; which ironically, symbolises rejuvenationwithin this stadium).
Then the tour continued to the players entrance, dressing-rooms and shower/hydrotherapy/plunge-pool areas, before heading out pitch side to sit in the home-side’s dug-outs, where the Irish rugby and soccer managers, subs and greater entourage, would sit during the games.
The main Aviva Stadium Tour finished with a trip to the 5th level, where the groups could get a birds-eye view of the fantastic arena.
Our programme didn’t finish there however, and we continued to the Garda Conference Room where we had assembled our gym.
2) STARTBOX PROGRAMME:
As boxing officers, our predominant goals throughout our summer-schedule, was to reach out to ‘at-risk’ children and young people, not to mention, disadvantaged communities in general, by giving them an interest in the sport of boxing and promoting healthy lifestyles. Furthermore, in contemporary times, it has been proven that being involved in boxing, establishes a positive-focus in participant’s lives. So, we were banking on the possibility that the students would recognise the benefits that come from our great sport and they’d hopefully acquire such an interest that they would be confident enough to find a local boxing club and begin their own journey down the road, as amateur boxers. Therefore, when the Aviva Stadium, gave us full-reign over the Garda Conference Room, this gave us the perfect opportunity to design a gym, along the same lines as the High Performance Gym at the National Stadium, Dublin.
We had the gym all-decked-out with heavy bags, ropes, and even erected a full-sized ring, which was not only aesthetically pleasing and a great visual effect, but it definitely inspired and motivated these young people. We brought our groups in and warmed them up in the ring. Then we split them into manageable groups, where some of us would take the participants on pads inside the ring, some went on the bags and the remainder on the ropes and we rotated, so that everyone could get a taste of all the stations required. The students seemed to find these activities extremely enjoyable and we found that it definitely whet their appetites for the sport of boxing.
3) IABA 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY EXHIBITION:
In honour of our fantastic history as a boxing nation, we hunted down some of our boxing heroes, both past and present, to ask them if they would donate their medals, trophies, belts and cups to go on show at the IABA Exhibition. Most of the boxers were only delighted to comply, so in the exhibition, we were excited to be able to show the young people on the tour, the 5-medals won in last year’s European Championships, just for starters. Not only that, but incredibly, on one of the days, all the medal-winners from the RTE/Irish Sports Council “Irish Team of the Year 2010”.Including Kenneth Egan, Tyrone McCullough, Darren O Neill, Paddy Barnes and our very own Eric Donovan, attended our exhibition, to the delight of the young people who took the tour.
We were also graced with a variety of National perpetual cups and trophies, as well as a number of national and international belts. However, by far the highlight of the exhibition was still to come, where Michael Carruth allowed his Olympic Gold Medal and Belt, which he’d won in the 1992 Olympics, Barcelona, to be displayed, for everyone to see. The young people were in awe of all the gold, silver and bronze on show and had great fun listening to all the old boxing-stories of how the champions had won their titles and medals. It also gave them the rare chance of trying on the various belts and medals, for a myriad of photo opportunities.
4) MEDIA DISPLAY:
Also, within the confines of the Garda Conference Room and along the walls of the gym, Aideen O Connor of the DCC kindly printed out hundreds of poster-sized photographs and helped erect them on the walls. The posters included many of our heroes in action, both past and present. We also had the use of 3 televisions, where we screened the motivational video, pertaining to the Irish boxing team training in Milan- all accompanied with some up-beat music. This too, went down extremely well with the participants.
- We spent from Tuesday 5th to Friday 29th July 2011 (excluding Wednesday 27th July) at the Aviva Stadium.
- In all, we worked with at total of 72 groups; including, youth diversion projects, training employment centres, early school leavers, summer projects, autistic groups, the deaf society, youth projects, recreation centres, boxing clubs, and accompanied by DCC Sport & Recreation Officers special needs
groups and senior citizens.
- We dealt with young people of all shapes and sizes, of mixed gender, race, ethnicity, religion, ability and age.
- Our target area consisted of all Dublin City Council city locations.
- Our target group included participants between the ages of 10-21.
- The final tally of participants, which the IABA/DCC Boxing in the Community Development Officers worked with, over the space of a total of just 18 days at the Aviva Stadium, came to a grand total of 1040 young people, 76 senior citizens, and 23 special needs participants.
- Not surprisingly, the Aviva Stadium Tour/StartBox Exhibition Programme has indeed been deemed a huge success, not only by the participant’s themselves, but very positive feedback has been received, in the form of letters, texts and other multi-media outlets, from dignitaries, group leaders, managers and social workers alike.
- We would like to thank Aideen O Connor, John Delaney, Martin Murphy, Frank Maguire and all of the staff at the Aviva Stadium for embracing this project and recognising its value to local community. Martin and Frank have even suggested the possibility of further collaborations in the stadium. Over-all, this was a fantastic experience for both ourselves and the participants.
- Consequently, with the help of the Aviva Stadium it is a programme that the boxing officers will seriously have to think about revisiting with a view to targeting our school groups at a later date.