A new phase of the ACCESS project starts as the GAA delivers a training on Community Engagement and Outreach

An important project milestone was reached as the four sport organisations will start multiplying and replicating the ACCESS methodology nationally, reaching out to dozens of clubs to involve them in nation-wide campaigns for improving environmental management in sports and teaming them up with respective local and regional authorities.

This phase, originally foreseen for the last year of the project, has the objective to turn the four participating sport organisations – FC Porto, the Danish and the Welsh Football Associations and the GAA into reference points and changemakers when it comes to environmental management improvements in sports and their alignment with strategies and policies of their local authorities. Considering the sizes and coverage of these sport organisations, and given their previous initiatives in this field and especially the ACCESS journey they’ve been through, this phase is expected to attract attention across the four countries and interest from numerous professional and amateur clubs who would want to benefit from this coaching experience.

In order to facilitate the process, and to provide some basic insights, tips and examples of good practice, the GAA delivered a training on community engagement and outreach, on 9 April, by taking advantage of the project meeting which was taking place at Croke Park in Dublin. The training module saw experienced trainers, facilitators and practitioners who developed customised approaches and methodologies within the GAA’s Health and Community Club. Brid O’ Dwyer, Jimmy D’Arcy, Colin Regan and Geraldine McTavish delivered a workshop based around the three themes of mobilisation, communication and inclusion, with the common thread across all themes of linking of community and sport in both narrative and practice.

The training allowed the participants to discuss some challenges and lessons learnt when it comes to working with disadvantaged communities, ensuring gender equality and more, as many of the ACCESS project team members in the participating sport organisations are overseeing exactly the same or similar processes in their countries.

Back to the outreach and engagement itself – this process will be done through an initial mapping the sport organisations need to carry out. This would see an outreach exercise which would end with identifying at least 5 amateur and/or professional clubs which would express their interest to adhere to the campaign by designating a “Green Team”, not only to coordinate the engagement during the project’s lifetime, but also as a liaison between the project and the rest of their club, including their local authorities, members and the wider local community. This exercise would also allow those interested to contribute to the creation of a Charter document which would summarise the expectations, requirements and actions that need to be taken in order to meet the project’s overall objectives. Once officialised and published in October 2024, it would be put forward to a much wider target group to adhere to it. A special focus and efforts will be put on rural and remote communities in order to ensure fair involvement and participation.

Once adhered, the clubs will undergo a club audit and community consultation which would feed into tailored Club Action Plans, similar to the ones that the ACCESS project partners developed recently. These Club Action Plans won’t only serve as a plans for improvements in those adhered clubs who signed the Charter but would also ensure considerable replication and multiplication of the ACCESS project’s methodology beyond the project’s lifetime.

Finally, this entire process would see a development of a manual that would summarise the approaches, methodologies and activities carried out.

Therefore, if you are a football or a GAA club in Ireland, Denmark, Portugal or Wales, don’t hesitate getting in touch with us.

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