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New sporting STARs are born

Published: 7th April 2017

A chance conversation between TAP’s Katriona O’Sullivan and Senator Lynn Ruane has led to the creation of a new pilot programme starting in September.

Entitled STAR (Sporting Talent & Academic Rewards), and organised in conjunction with TAP, Trinity Sport and Shamrock Rovers, it aims to keep talented young footballers in education for longer.

A lot of children dream of becoming professional footballers. Yet this dream often comes at a cost – their education. “We did a recent survey in 11 DEIS schools of 1,100 students,” says Katriona, “and over 33% said they wanted to be professional sportsperson when they left school. Most of them said they did not see the value in education.”

Furthermore, says Katriona, over 80% of young men who play soccer at an elite level come from working-class communities and often DEIS schools.

Among those lending their support to STAR are TV pundit Richie Sadlier, who was in the Global Room for the launch of the programme this week, former international soccer players Damien Duff (Shamrock Rovers Academy Coach), and Stephen McPhail (Shamrock Rovers Sporting Director) and John O’Sullivan (Carlisle United).

The STAR launch following a three-day tournament for sixth class students from eight TAP-linked schools. At the event Richie Sadlier presented Scott Brown, from St Thomas’s of Jobstown, with his trophy for Player of the Tournament.

Speaking at the launch, Katriona commented: “In the times we live in, where soccer is such a difficult profession to succeed in, some children end up with a limited capacity to get jobs and are at risk of falling into poverty and not realising their full academic potential. The STAR project aims to combine sporting capabilities with academic support and offers young people from places like Tallaght, Drimnagh and inner city Dublin with a chance to keep sport focused, through training with Shamrock Rovers and Trinity Sport, with academic support through the Trinity Access Programmes.

Shamrock Rovers Chairman Jonathan Roche further added: "Shamrock Rovers are delighted and honored to partner with Trinity College. We recently opened a new training facility for our young players and we are striving to raise the bar in Irish football by developing our own talent on the pitch. A huge part of this is working with the kids off the pitch also. It is vitally important for us that kids are educated both on and off the pitch. This programme will show kids the importance of education and that football and education can go hand in hand.”

*Main photo (L-R): Ronan Finn (Shamrock Rovers), Scott Brown (Player of the Tournament) and Richie Sadlier at the STAR launch in the Global Room