No other sport connects people around the globe the way football does. And Gaelic football is no exception. On June 9, people from all around the world gathered in Shanghai for the second largest Gaelic football championship in Asia – the All China Games Shanghai 2018.
A total of 18 teams, including 8 women’s and 10 men’s teams from Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanchang, Hong Kong, Beijing and Seoul, competed for the championship. Apart from the Irish community, there were many Asian, American and European faces. All the players were connected together because of Gaelic football. Even though they are amateurs, they had enormous passion and played really hard on the pitches. Off the field, the crowd and coaches kept players’ spirits high.
(Players from Beijing discuss tactics.)
(Players from East China University of Technology, Jiangxi Province, warm up before the game.)
(Shanghai (blue) VS. Hong Kong (white), Photo courtesy of Nicolle Horn)
(Off-field players keep cheering their teammates on.)
Caitlyn Connolly has played the sport for three years. Now she serves as Chairperson of the Shanghai Gaelic Football Club. Having to work full time as an international school teacher, she spends her spare time dealing with the affairs of the club. However, for Caitlyn, it’s a responsibility she enjoys: “Because I enjoy the sport so much, it makes it easier to help run the club. I know that if I can help people come play this sport, like I did, and really enjoy playing, like I do, that's the most important part.”
(Caitlyn Connolly, Chairperson of Shanghai Gaelic Football Club)
“The coaches in our club are also very supportive. They also go to schools to teach students Gaelic football. We have two university students from Nanchang on our women’s team. We also have a men's team consisting of Nanchang university students.” Apart from promoting Gaelic football in Shanghai, the club also plays an active role in promoting Irish culture. On St. Patrick's Day this March, the juvenile team (of which 95% are Chinese children) participated together with the adult team in the parade on the Bund and experienced Irish customs and tradition.
(Group photo of GAA Shanghai, Photo courtesy of Nicolle Horn)
Among the players, we saw a familiar figure - Aileen Murray, Deputy Consul General of Ireland in Shanghai. Tall and slim, she was prominent in the crowd. It turned out that she is also a member of the Shanghai Gaelic Football Club. Together with her teammates, she played hard on the field and was a stand-in goalkeeper for part of the game.
(Aileen Murray (left) and teammates listen to their coach during the interval.)
Gaelic football is an Irish team sport derived from traditional Irish ball games and controlled by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). There are two traditional Irish sports: one is hurling and the other, Gaelic football. It is played between two teams of 15 players on a rectangular grass pitch. Each game lasts one hour. Players advance the ball with a combination of carrying, bouncing, kicking, hand-passing, and soloing (dropping the ball and then toe-kicking the ball upward into the hands). The objective of the sport is to score by putting the ball into the net as in association football, or over the crossbar between the two upright posts that rise above the goal.
（Group photo of Beijing men’s team）
（Group photo of Hong Kong women’s team）
（Shanghai Warriors wins the B competition and gets the Men’s Plate, Photo courtesy of Peter Mooney）
After one day of adrenaline fueled competition, the male winners were Beijing and the female Hong Kong. This November, the All Asia Games 2018 will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, gathering 65 GAA teams from all over Asia. We look forward to the grand party of all Asian GAAs！
你是否听说过盖尔式足球？有这样一群人，他们不仅了解这项运动，还是它的忠实粉丝。6月9日，他们从各地奔赴上海，参加全亚洲第二大盖尔式足球锦标赛All China Games Shanghai 2018（盖尔式足球中国区比赛），超燃的气氛充斥了整个绿茵场。