SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A local group hopes to attract more women to join in on two of the world’s oldest sports.
The Savannah Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), an Irish sports club, formed earlier this year. The club has been recruiting both male and female players to play Gaelic football and hurling, both popular Irish sports.
“Back in Ireland, we have the ladies’ league, which is hugely successful, it’s hugely followed, and we’ve got camogie, which is the women’s version of hurling,” said Damien Shields, a member of the local GAA.
“Hurling is the fastest game on grass in the world, it’s a very ancient game and people in Ireland are fanatical about it,” Shields added.
While the men’s team is gaining traction, the new sports club has been slower to attract female players to the games.
“We have a handful of women, but as the weeks go on, we’re hoping we can recruit more and keep up the kind of combined male-female aspect of the group,” Savannah GAA vice president Abigail Tiplady told WSAV.com NOW.
She says the goal is to create a fun, open environment where players from the community can enjoy themselves and not take the games too seriously.
“We want to win eventually, but we’re a long way from there, so for now, it’s just a bit of a kickaround in the park, some fun with the hurls and trying to hit the sliotar, which is pretty difficult!” Tiplady laughed.
Watch the clip below to hear Shields explain the rules of hurling and Irish football.
Getting women involved
Tiplady says she feels it’s important with any sport to include female players.
“I’ve been to several clubs where it’s 95 percent men and a couple of women, and it can be intimidating,” she says.
The Savannah GAA hopes to recruit between 15 to 25 players to join the ladies’ league, and say they aim to include everyone in the games.
“We want to keep that community and family environment as well, we want women, children, we want the whole family to come along,” Tiplady said.
The Savannah GAA meets in Forsyth Park every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. For those interested, Shields suggested checking out GAA.ie for lessons and getting a better idea of what the sports entail.
“We’re more than welcome to show you the necessary skills to get things going,” Shields said. “It’s so much fun and part of our Irish culture, and we’d be happy to have you.”