by Yvonne McEvoy
I knew I wanted to play Gaelic football in Singapore before I came seven months ago, so the old Kappa boots were thrown into suitcase along with the football socks from my home club Clonakilty, Co. Cork. I stopped playing football when I was 17 for no apparent reason and I always regretted not taking it up again in college. I had spoken to girls who had worked in Asian countries and all of them advised me that joining a GAA club abroad is a great social outlet which is especially vital when you’re moving half way across the world. I was merely hoping to get the opportunity to meet a few new people and play a match every now and again. What I got was so much more.
From the moment my fellow newbies and I joined the club we were bombarded with invitations to different social events. ‘You have to do the Amazing race!’ we were told a few weeks in. Running around Singapore in fancy dress, completing various (often disgusting!) challenges was a fantastic experience and my first social event with the club.
The first few months we were preoccupied with fitness training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
We were kept busy! My sister visited in July and I brought her to one of Mel’s fitness sessions (mean I know!). A runner herself, she was blown away by the huge number of ladies togged out to train in such humidity. She was so impressed with the class and I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to attend it every week.
Things really picked up in July.
There is no doubt that the fitness training was tough but it was about to get worse. We started training three times a week in blistering heat. It was torturous! DO NOT GO OUT ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IF YOU WANT TO GO TRAINING ON SUNDAY!!! We learned that the hard way.
Although the training was physically tough the craic was never compromised and every session was enjoyable.
The build up to the AGGs was phenomenal. From team bonding sessions in Mexican restaurants, dancing on the sideline to ‘Shake it off’ and working as team to improve our game (we nailed the kickouts eventually!) it was a fantastic few weeks.
The AGGs was an unbelievably well organised competition that has trumped every sporting event I’ve ever attended. A highlight for me was meeting one of my best friends from primary school who was representing Busan, South Korea in the competition. We hadn’t seen each other in 10 months and it was pretty incredible to think that Gaelic football brought us together so far from home.
For me joining SGL has been the best thing I’ve done since moving to Singapore. It has enabled me to slot into life in Singapore with ease. Initially, I was worried that it would be hard to befriend people who had been part of the club for years. I figured that people would have understandably already established their own friends in the club and the newbies would just stick together. However, this was not the case. The girls in the club are so receptive to new comers and there are no cliques or divides within the club. To me this is SGL’s greatest merit. I have advised every new girl that I’ve met to join the club because I can say with 100% confidence that they won’t regret it. SGL abu!
Amy (centre) with her team-mates Rachel (left) and Rachel (right)
by Amy Brooks-Partridge
I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of GAA, until Mel started mentioning it during bootcamp/fitness training. Then along came Bowlah and Mags Maroney, all “Oh, just give it a go will ya, you’ll be grand”, and that was it. I remember PC coming down to one fitness training session, and Mel mentioned to him that I might give it a go. When he asked what team sports I’d played before, I proudly told him I’d been captain of my rounders team at school for one year. Surprisingly he wasn’t as impressed as I’d expected him to be.
The first training session was brutal – it started at 1pm, and I do remember thinking it was a little warm, before the heat stroke set in.
But, it was all good exhausting fun. I loved learning on my feet, playing with other people, and the time went by quickly. I’d got so used to exercising on my own (at the gym, running etc.) that playing with a team again reminded me how motivating that can be.
I’ll admit I was nervous, I still am. It’s hard throwing yourself into a massive bunch of 20 something girls who all know each other, and are fit as fiddles. But once you’re out there you realise that everyone sweats the same, and from the A team to the E team, they’re a lovely welcoming bunch.
This welcome is plain to see during social events, particularly in the form of jägermeister (I’m pretty sure SGL must have shares in the stuff), a boat race, or a hump from Mel. The combination makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (as far as I can remember).
My first tour was the AGGs in Kuala Lumpur, and what a great first tour – reasonably priced, well-organised, a great craic. I don’t think I saw anything other than the pitches or the inside of the hotel, and quite frankly I don’t care. We, the Misfits (the E team), finally played as a full team, and had a great time. Okay we might not have won many matches, but we had great fun trying, and I think that playing those games helped me get better. I wish we could keep on practising and playing, but I guess I’ll just have to wait until March next year!
by Enda Kilcullen
I last played Gaelic with the Auckland Gaels in New Zealand 15 years ago, I played with 2 ex All Blacks and a couple of professional rugby players. Was a great experience, the social side was fantastic….on big occasions the Kiwi lads would do the Haka while the Irish contingent would attempt some dodgy riverdance. My expectations when I signed up for the SGL was that it’d be social, good exercise and a bit of craic.
My first training session was in 30 degree heat – pure agony. But yet you wanted to come back for more…By the end of it, I came away thinking it was great, with a sound bunch of lads and good encouragement when you are trying to master the art of soloing the ball again! As for the craic, I enjoyed Muddys and the $12 Guinness special….and dislikes.?…Tuesday night fitness sessions would bring a grown man to tears at times. As an experience of learning a new sport, I found it a really great challenge and if you go training things get easier….or so the lads tell me.
The best part is meeting new people, the club is social to the extremes, exactly what you need in a foreign country, great way to meet people and have a laugh. My first tour was the South East Asian Games in Hanoi…42 degs of heat, it was a long way from Mayo that day! But a great weekend, a well organised tour. Hats off to the committee who do so many hard yards behind the scenes. How can you not have fun playing an Irish sport in Northern Vietnam? Even saying it out loud seems a bit mad!