By NIALL SCULLY
ON the foothills of the Dublin Mountains last Saturday morning, there was a bitter breeze that would slice a hailstone.
But on the Kiltipper Road, at the Postal Sports&Social Club, the cheers and smiles decorated the sidelines.
It was Football For All Day. The initiative that opens the doors of the game to everyone.
It’s all about fun for the children. The thrill of taking part. Being part of the team. And being involved in such an enjoyable occasion.
Teams played under the names of different countries – the likes of Mexico, Switzerland, Croatia and Argentina. And many more. A League of Nations.
The flags of the countries flew. The music played. There was a DJ on duty. He came from the school of Larry Gogan.
The action flowed from early morning till mid-afternoon. On the grass, and on the all-weather surfaces.
There was a break for lunch. With delicious hot grub upstairs in the clubhouse. Keeping away the chill.
The young players had much to be proud of. And so had the coaches, giving them their time and wisdom.
Their patience and gentle guidance summed up the essence of sport. And what a wonderful theatre it can be.
The coaches helped the boys and girls enhance the small-sided pitches. Scoring gallons of goals. Producing pockets of skill. Tons of effort. And turning on the charm for the galleries.
The audience responded with encouragement and applause. At ringside, a gent declared. “What a goal. An absolute belter.”
And there were many more magic moments like that.
“Come on Switzerland,” called a Dublin voice from the Tallaght terraces.
Portugal were in sharp form. They contained a cluster of Ronaldo’s.
When the players left the pitches, they were greeted with a chorus of “Well done. You played great. You’re a star.”
It was a day that lifted the spirits of all. It would have pleased the new FAI President, Gerry McAnaney, a firm disciple of the Football For All Programme.
Mick Kennedy was at the hub of Saturday’s festival. He spent over seven years in the DDSL Boardroom. Forging a reputation as a first-class administrator.
Mick states that the plan is to stage more Football for All Days throughout the year.
“We already had one in July at Knocklyon. And we are looking to hold one at Abbotstown.
“We aim to set up a League within the DDSL. Comprising of two different divisions. Paddy Dempsey and George Victory have been great supporters of the project.
“We cater for everybody in Football For All – those with down syndrome, autism – those with special needs. It’s a brilliant concept.
“We are working with the DDSL and the FAI. It’s early days yet, but it’s going well.”
Saturday’s happy scene confirmed it. Football for All. The people’s game. The beautiful game. In all its glory.