START A CLUB
Starting an Irish sports club at your university is an amazing learning experience and a great opportunity for personal growth. While spreading your passion for Irish sports, you are creating a new community of people from diverse backgrounds and interests. You are also learning many skills that you might not learn in the classroom, like leadership, fundraising, and event planning and management to name a few. To say the least, it is an unforgettable experience. The friends and memories you make will stay with you the rest of your life.
Below is a recipe based on the successful club startup processes that have been used so far in various US colleges. And, at all times, you must stick to one key principle: Keep a good relationship with your college administration. Do nothing without permission. You may need permission to put up posters around the campus or to use athletic field space. The college logo will be a registered trademark that cannot be used without their permission. You may even need permission to use the school’s name.
Rules vary from college to college, so you must contact your club sports administrators and find out what the ground rules are.
Phase 1 - Starting Up
1 – Make yourself known to the NCGAA.
2 – Through the NCGAA, establish contact with the nearest GAA people who may be able to give you some coaching, teach you how to play the game, and maybe even donate equipment.
3 – Establish two members of your future club, a Student Representative and an Adult Representative. The Student Representative must be enrolled at your university and will be primarily responsible for contacting the university fr such items as funding, recruiting fairs, and field acquisition. The Adult Representative should live in or near the city of the university and will be primarily responsible for being a voice of reason, helping to adopt recruitment strategies, and as a consistent face during times when the university is out of session.
4 – Approach your college sports/clubs administration and find out what the ground rules are. Some schools are more supportive than others. You may receive unconditional support, or you may meet resistance, which can be overcome as follows:
“We don’t have enough money for new clubs.”
“We aren’t asking for money, just permission to operate on campus and use the
college’s name so that we can represent our school in competitive games against other
“We don’t have enough field space for new sports clubs.”
“No problem. We are willing to go off campus and pay the market rate to rent municipal
“There aren’t any local teams for you to play against.”
“This sport is in the early stages of growth, and teams are springing up on college campuses all over the country.”
“This looks like a dangerous sport.”
“Soccer produces more injuries than hurling or Gaelic football. Hurlers are trained to protect themselves using their sticks, and helmets are mandatory under GAA rules.”
Phase 2 - Marketing and Advertising
5 – Start a Facebook page to promote your club, and invite people to join. We also highly recommend starting an Instagram and/or Twitter account(s) as well.
6 – Design and print out flyers (business cards are a plus).
7 – Find out when recruitment events are on your campus and sign up. They could be recruitment fairs, freshman BBQ’s, international student events etc. Before you attend any of these events please read our guide on setting up a booth at recruitment events.
8 – Talk to your school about how you can advertise your club on campus. Some schools have restrictions on where you can post flyers.
Phase 3 - Practices
9 – Talk to your school about reserving field space for practices.
10 – Schedule weekly practices as well as regular scrimmages with local clubs.
11 – Host a new player clinic. This is an opportunity for interested students to get a quick overview of hurling and/or football.
12 – Puck around on campus to hone in your skills and generate more interest. Make sure you bring flyers and extra equipment so people can try out the sports!
This is probably the most boring part of the process but is extremely important in ensuring your club has a solid foundation. Without a solid foundation, your club will struggle to grow and prosper. Below is a list of some documents we highly recommend you create during the club's startup phases.
Bylaws (most of the time the school requires a set of bylaws to become a registered club)
Club goals (semester, 1 year, 2 year, 5 year plans)
Member retention plan
Social media schedule
Skill development plan
Semester by semester plan (we recommend to always be working towards a semester goal like competing in a tournament. You're more likely to lose members if the club isn't working towards something)
Travel plan (travel and play other schools or adult clubs on weekends or over school breaks)
For for detail on these documents and some examples head over to our Guides page, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask!