If you are reading this then there is a fair chance that you are involved in a sporting club in Waterford. If so then you will be only too aware that two of the biggest issues facing clubs these days are emigration of players and how hard it is to obtain sponsorship in this testing economic environment.
To that end a local GAA club and a well respected local employer in their community have joined forces to tackle both these issues in a rather novel and pretty unique way. The club is Ferrybank GAA club and the local employer is Anglo Beef Processors Waterford (ABP) which employs 250 people in Waterford. Not alone have ABP agreed to sponsor jerseys for every team in the club for the next three years but they want it to be far more than that, more a partnership. One which will include job placements, graduate programmes, IT help and much more.
Ferrybank chairman, Nicky Heffernan, took up the story at last Thurrsday night’s lauch at the Granville Hotel. “Two years ago our club came together and produced a five year strategic plan to guide and assist us in continuing the future of the Ferrybank club and all its members. A recommendation from this plan was to have one jersey to cover all the teams in the club from underage to our most senior adult team as it was felt that it was important to have one sponsor covering all teams in the club. As anyone involved in fundraising would realise, this would be a big task to undertake in the current economic climate.
“Based just across the river in Ferrybank, it was important for us as a club to find the right sponsor. We are fortunate that ABP, a company located in Ferrybank and employing local people including some of our club members decided to come on board. We feel that ABP are a perfect fit for the Ferrybank GAA club and we are very fortunate that they agreed to provide a three year sponsorship agreement, beginning in January 2015.
“All our discussions with Graham Butler and Peadar Darmody from ABP were productive and honest. They saw what we were doing in the local community and saw the importance of this and decided to come on board as our sponsors. Not only have they committed to jersey sponsorship but more importantly they will offer certain job placement programmes, with a possibility of graduate programmes, and they would help provide expertise if we wish to upgrade our website. For that commitment the Ferrybank GAA Club and all its supporters are very appreciate and grateful.
“Ferrybank GAA club has now established a good working relationship with ABP. Our players will wear their jerseys with pride and it will give each player a sense of identity and also put the ABP brand out in the local community and countywide.
“ABP is ranked 28th in the top 1,000 Irish companies and we are very happy to be involved with such a prominent and well run Irish Company. ABP have also provided financial support to our Annual Peader Summer Camp over a long number of years and it would be remiss of me not to mention Clover Meats, the factory that operated from what is now ABP and gave huge employment to people in the Ferrybank area for decades. Our club was supported by employees from Clover Meats and our players, mentors and committee members would have worked in the local plant, so it is fitting that we have a shared history and are moving forward into the future with ABP.
“We believe this is an unique arrangement for any sporting organisation and we feel very privileged to be part of such an arrangement. You can be ensured that the Ferry bank GAA Club will work hard to cement and progress this partnership with ABP.”
Nicky went on to issue a welcome to anyone living in the Ferrybank catchment area or anyone who may have played with the club in the past to come on board with them if they had time or skills to offer to help them complete their five year plan and build for the future as well as meeting lots of new people in your area.
He concluded by saying, “as Ferrybank GAA Club chairman I would like to thank all the committee for their help in organising tonight’s function. A particular word of thanks to Jim Freeman who gave his time and expertise willingly to make sure tonight was a success and also a big thank you for the large attendance for coming out on such a bad night and also to Graham and his colleagues from ABP, Co. Board vice-chairman, John O’Leary and Eastern Board chairman, Sean Michael O’Regan and members of the local press for attending.”
Representing the County Board, vice-chairman, John O’Leary, expressed how delighted he was to be invited to such a great function and how great it was to see a local GAA club with such good news to announce. “Having been involved with my own club, Ballyduff Lower, all my life and with the county board for nearly 20 years I know the great challenges that face GAA clubs and that’s why I think this is such a great venture. Every club has felt the devastating blows of emigration and the struggle for sponsorship in recent years and I think this partnership will prove hugely beneficial to Ferrybank GAA going forward and hopefully it will prove equally beneficial to ABP and I think that both of you could be setting the tone for a model that might prove hugely beneficial for GAA clubs all over the country in the years ahead. I wish you the very best with this partnership and I have no doubt that it will be a great success and I hope that in the years to come your club will be hugely successful on and off the field and in the not too distant future you will be back in the senior ranks in hurling and football,” concluded John O’Leary.
SEAN MICHAEL O’REGAN
Sean Michael O’Regan, Eastern Board Chairman, thanked Ferrybank on behalf of himself and secretary, Seamie Cleere, for the invitation to attend the launch and began by saying that from an Eastern and County Board perspective that they are one of the strongest and most well run clubs in the division. ‘As John said I too am very aware as to the struggles that clubs have to go through to keep the show on the road and to that end Ferrybank deserve great credit for the way they have continued to go from strength to strength. On this venture I think it will be a great success and I can’t help but feel that this is going to be a great partnership between two very professional organisations who will do everything in their power to make it the best it can be. Ferrybank are a great club at our Eastern Board meetings. They always have a full attendance and always contribute to debates on structures and help out in any way they can and I know they are the same at the county board level and their five year plan was one of the best presented. Their professionalism can also be seen by the wonderful facilities that they have at their club, which is a great testament to the club.
“To finish up I see this as a marriage made in heaven between Ferrybank and ABP and a very innovative idea and I can only wish you, on behalf of myself and all in the Eastern Board, the very best of luck with it and great success both on and off the field in the years ahead,” concluded Sean Michael O’Regan.
On behalf of ABP, Graham Butler, said, “ABP is a long time stakeholder in the Ferrybank area and when Nicky Heffernan and Shane Ahearne came to us some time ago with a view to sponsoring a some jerseys we just felt that we could to a little bit more than that and that’s why we decided to go with the whole partnership idea. As Nicky has outlined, we look forward to being able to help the club with summer work placements, graduate programmes and other such things that go that little bit further than your normal sponsorship to give back to a community that we’ve been part of for a very long time. I am delighted with this partnership from a work and personal perspective (being a GAA man myself) and would like to thank Nicky and all the lads for their work in getting this partnership to this stage and look forward to working with them to make it a success,” concluded Graham Butler.