Kilkenny Hotel Helps Uganda GAA

The 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 a hugely underprivileged area of Uganda that put a call out for GAA equipment.

The 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 three 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, thereby taking the pressure from parents who struggle to meet school fees and put food on the table, allowing their children time to be a child and have fun playing sports.

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  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.”

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 and #UgandaGaelic.  Donations can be made via here..

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.

To donate, visit iDonate.  More information can be found here on the Newpark Hotel website.