On Friday August 3, FAI officials will visit the village of Herbertstown to present the local soccer club, Herbertstown AFC, with their FAI Club Mark for excellence.
Herbertstown AFC is amongst the first eight soccer clubs in Ireland and the first club in Limerick to be given this prestigious award.
According to club Chairman Michael Bermingham “Achieving this award is down to having a strong committee at the club who are willing to follow FAI governance guidelines and have the support from the FAI through their local Development Officer Barry Mc Gann who has helped the club to focus on developing young players and developing Herbertstown AFC as a soccer club.”
Community clubs like Herbertstown AFC are essential in the provision of soccer in Ireland. Soccer has grown into one of the most widely played and loved games in the country and this is due to the work undertaken by volunteers who play an invaluable role in recreational and competitive football at all levels.
The FAI Club Mark is an award based on best practice in the governance, management and administration of a soccer club. Clubs start their journey at Entry Level, and can progress on to become a 1 star club. Each step challenges the club to implement policies and procedures in line with best practice.
The aim of the FAI Club Mark:
Establish minimum operating criteria for football clubs
Provide clubs with a road map to good governance, management and administration
Support clubs on their Journey
Reward clubs for achieving and maintaining high standards
Provide recognition to clubs for their commitment and achievements
Increase club’s capacity to operate effectively and grow football in communities throughout Ireland
Herbertstown AFC was founded in 1976 and serves a wide geographical rural area in East Limerick. They are affiliated to the LDLC, LDDUL and LWSSL. They are one of the first clubs in Ireland to be awarded the Club Q-Mark.
“As a club, we made a decision in recent years to move our ethos from one of being a results driven club, to one that puts player development and fun first. This change of ethos now permeates though the club from coaches to players and to parents” said Chairman Michael Bermingham.
“Our ethos was easier to implement thanks to the introduction of the FAI’s PDP Plan which all coaches were asked to follow. All of our coaches have also completed training courses such as PDP1 and PDP 3 as well as Child Safeguarding training courses at the club. As a club we have subsidised these courses by 50%, as we believe coach development is invaluable in the development of kids” he added
In the past four to five years the club has gone from strength to strength and now has a membership of 200 players. The club now has teams from U-6 to U-16 as well as a Junior Ladies team and Junior Men’s team.
With the introduction of the Soccer Sisters initiative three years ago, the club now has a Minor girls’ team, U-14 girls, U-12 girls and U-10 girls and the younger girls at the club are part of the U-6, U-8 and U-9 mixed squads.
In April of this year with the support of the FAI, the club established a Football for All Programme. Sessions are held every Saturday from 10.30-11.30 am at John The Baptist Secondary School in Hospital, Co. Limerick. Over 18 children and young people are registered with the clubs Football for All Programme and every Saturday these children and young people who range in age from 5-17 attend.
They are children and young people with Down Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy as well as ASD’s and non-verbal children. New members are joining the club every week and the club is encouraging parents from across East Limerick to come along to one of their sessions and see how it might benefit their child.