Jim Canny, Chairman of Aisling Annacotty
This week I sat down with the chairman of a local club which boasts thirty one competitive teams. Aisling Annacotty, chaired by Jim Canny, fields twenty five male teams and six female teams in junior, youths and schoolboy/girl leagues.
All of this is built on the foundation of another twenty five teams in the Under 7 to Under 11 non competition section of the local league.
Aisling Annacotty are the biggest club in our city and are in the top ten biggest clubs in the country.
Leading a club with over eight hundred registered playing members is a huge responsibility and when you consider that now, by law, everyone working with young players must be Garda vetted and child welfare trained, this is a responsibility that not just anyone could manage successfully.
When I spoke to Aisling Annacotty's Chairman Jim Canny, who has embraced with passion and drive ,this responsibility for last five years, I meet a man who is a fantastic ambassador for the game and oozes enthusiasm for both he’s club and players.
Prior to taking on the role of chairman Jim was a committee member for the previous five years while always seeming to find time to manage a schoolboy team every season.
Jim explained, “Aisling is in the top three biggest clubs in Munster and in the top ten in Ireland so to facilitate such a high number of players in one club can be challenging. We have a very good committee with first class officers, we also have our football committee, which meets forth nightly to stay on top of football matters. Every age group individually is then updated online so everyone is kept up to date with club philosophies, rules and issues”
Canny also admitted that the club is built around volunteerism.
“We rely primarily on volunteers, either parents or young adults to look after our teams and with such a high number of teams at each age group this can be tough at times but we always deliver for the players”
Every team needs a coach or coaches too of course, which means even more resources to keep the standards up across all ages.
“When appointing coaches to any of our teams we encourage them to immediately engage with the FAI, to receive PDP1 and PDP2 training and we also have the support of some professional coaches. We have two child welfare officers who ensure all our coaches are certified to work with our underage players but communication is vital in the running of any club and our channels of communication from coaches to committee are always open” continued Jim
With so many players, I wondered is it difficult trying to meet the footballing needs of such a high number at one club, but Jim outlined the club's philosophy is to provide football for everybody.
“We do not turn any player away based on ability and we try to accommodate every player at their own footballing level. Some of our younger age groups have four or five teams. This is simply due to the high number of young people in our area which we have to keep up with”
With all large and indeed successful clubs in the country, ties with the local community prove vital.
“Our club, is engaged with local organisations that use our facilities. The local schools and even schools city wide play their home games on our full size all weather pitch. Local businesses sponsor our teams, as we are very fortunate to be situated in the heart of the community. Particularly at this time of year, due to the adverse weather, our playing facilities are in demand for rent and we recently opened a club shop which is open every Saturday and Sunday morning serving tea and coffee and displaying a host of club merchandise for sale”. continued Canny.
Success is something that is viewed in different ways so I asked Jim what the clubs view of success is.
“Success for Aisling Annacotty is when we can see players enjoying the experience of playing with the club.
“At whatever level or age that is, the enjoyment of playing the game has to be at the core of any player. A player that loves the game is what a club should be built on these days, each club has their own philosophy but that is ours. Of course it is important for us to win trophies, and we do at every level but not at any cost, player development both on and off the field is of huge importance to us. Helping young people socially is a huge part of amateur and grassroots football and that is something we drive from committee level”
The club facilities is an area Jim also spoke passionately about
“With the number of teams representing the club, the logistics of getting all the matches played for all the teams and ages can take a lot of planning.
Our full sized all weather pitch is invaluable to us, it enables us to train and play matches at any time and in all conditions, but in addition to our grass pitch in Annacotty we also need the use of a further grass pitch in Killonan and more recently in Newtown Park, where we now play all our small sided games.
“Our long term goals as a club include sustaining ourselves through membership and to maintain and improve our facilities.
We’d like to develop our grass pitch in Annacotty and also upgrade our clubhouse and dressing rooms.
But primarily our main objective is to remain the most popular choice of football club for parents of schoolboys and schoolgirls in the city and to continue to help and develop as many young people as possible into the future”
Make sure to read Jason's next instalment in next week's Wednesday Leader