Historical match of gaelic football
19 July 2012
Galiza - Breizh, Friday 20th July 2012
Historical meeting for Gaelic Football
Gaelic Football (Peil Ghaelach), more than just a sport, a spirit ,a symbol of Irish History, the soul of a People.
"Those who play its games, those who organise its activities and those who control its destinies see in the G.A.A. a means of consolidating our Irish identity. The games to them are more than games - they have a national significance - and the promotion of native pastimes becomes a part of the full national ideal, which envisages the speaking of our own language, music and dances."
Extract from the introduction of the Official Guide published by the GAA - Croke Park, Dublin (03/06/2011)
Though its origins date back to many centuries ago, gaelic football actually boomed in 1884, when was created the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). This association, meant to promote Irish national sports, was already tending to be far more than a mere sports organisation. That is why it applied itself to build a social and cultural community, proud of its values and identity, while Ireland was still under British rule.
The bond between GAA and Irish History could not be stronger considering the unfolding of the first Bloody Sunday, which took place on the 21st of November 1920, during a match opposing Tipperary and Dublin in the Croke Park Stadium, actual temple of Gaelic sports, known today as the forth largest stadium in Europe,.
Strengthened nowadays by a million of members across the five continents, thanks to (and including) the considerable Irish diaspora, the GAA has managed to become the first organisation of amateur sports in the world, yet preserving its original values.
Brittany, a deep-rooted commitment about ten years ago
In 1998, a Breton club of Gaelic Football is created in Brest, soon followed by Rennes, these clubs numbering among the first ones in Continental Europe. In Brittany, the interest in Gaelic Football keeps growing: ten actual clubs and new ones coming soon. Let's just say that Gaelic Football is now deeply rooted in Brittany. However, Breton clubs which had until recently almost no Irish player to count with, are now greeting them in their teams: would you believe it?
It becomes an important cultural matter as well, since both Breton language and heritage make the most of it, in the manner of Ireland (and the whole Irish diaspora) with the GAA.
The Breton League and many clubs showed their commitment this year, notably by attending Ar Redadeg, a relay race supporting the Breton language, and by appending their signature to a convention involving Diwan Schools, in order to try and develop the practice of Gaelic Football and the exchanges with Gaelic Schools (Gaelscoileanna, ...).
A meeting symbolizing Friendship between the Celtic Nations
Even though Brittany has long been seen as an exception regarding the world of Gaelic Sports, its interest in these, and particularly in Gaelic Football, begins to spread and reach non-Irish backgrounds. Thus, is it really surprising to see Galicia, another celtic nation, follow the same path today?
On Friday the 20th of July 2012, Team Brittany will attend its first international contest of Gaelic Football, which will open the 12th Festival da Terra e da Língua de Narón, organized by associations such as Fundaçom Artábria and Siareiras Galegas, both supporting Galician language and culture. Through Arts and Words, this festival modestly contributes to the awakening of linguistic, cultural and national conscience, giving to Galicia strength and dynamism in a spirit of openness, modernity, looking into the future.
A wonderful chance for Brittany to live a one-life-time experience, seizing the opportunity to shine abroad by answering to the call! Besides, this invitation directly addressed to Team Brittany by the galician organizers shows a will to create new interceltic bonds, thanks to Gaelic Football. This is meant to draw a parallel between the social and cultural aspect and the project of long term exchanges.
Team Brittany, sponsored by Terrial, will count fifteen players from Brest, Guérande, Liffré, Kerne (Locronan / Quimper) and Saint-Brieuc. These players will go to Galicia and compete in what may be at least the game of the year, if not the game of their lives! By the way, they will stand for all the Breton players.
Beginnings of a true internationalization
This meeting is clearly historical as far as Bretons and Galicians are concerned, but it is a premiere as well since such a meeting, reuniting two non-irish teams standing for their respective country, had never been undertaken so far.
A new chapter in Gaelic Sports History is written then, as the issue of a true internationalization can no more be avoided considering the growing enthusiasm towards Gaelic Football, which goes now far beyond Irish borders..
Bretons and Galicians alike definitely intend to get their share and eventually face Ireland itself some day as acknowledged national teams!