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John Giles Foundation signs off with Football For All/FAI Schools donation

Irish footballing legend John Giles has outlined his gratitude to underage football for the start it gave him in his career as he joined with the Football Association of Ireland to announce the winding down of the John Giles Foundation.

Established as a not-for-profit trust in 2008, the Foundation helped to raise over €700,000 for Grassroots clubs across Ireland and supported many schoolboys and schoolgirls football initiatives.

To mark the closure of the John Giles Foundation, a sum of €55,000 has been donated to a Football For All Schools programme which will be overseen by the Football Association of Ireland Schools.

Announcing the donation to the Football For All Schools programme, John Giles said: “I am delighted that our final donation of €55,000 will enrich the lives of our Football For All players via this innovative FAI Schools programme and I wish all those who will benefit the same happiness that I have enjoyed from a lifetime’s involvement with our game.”

Welcoming the donation from the John Giles Foundation to the FAI Schools/Football For All programme, Football For All committee chairman Colm Young said: “We are delighted that the John Giles Foundation has chosen a dedicated Football For All schools programme as their final beneficiary and thank John and his Foundation for this wonderful gesture which will make such a difference to the Football For All programme in Irish schools. The growth of FFA in our schools is a key priority for the FAI Schools and Football For All and this funding will make such an immediate difference to the roll-out of our programme.”

Speaking on behalf of FAI Schools, chairman Robert Moran said: “On behalf of everyone connected with FAI Schools, and in particular on behalf of all the students who will benefit from this programme, I want to thank John Giles and everyone involved with the Foundation for this wonderful gesture. John Giles has always been a pioneer in Irish football and we are thrilled that Football For All and our Schools will benefit from the final work of his Foundation.”

Proud of his role as the focal point of the Foundation and the financial assistance given to so many clubs by the Trust, John Giles has also spoken of his delight at helping clubs grow the game throughout the country, a game he first fell in love with 73 years ago.

John said: “I enjoyed a very long and prosperous career in football and looking back on my time as a player, I have to acknowledge that my career really started in 1948 as an 8-year-old when I first began to play schoolboy football in Dublin as a young boy growing up in Ormond Square. I can say without fear of contradiction that I could not and would not have become a professional player without the support, facilities and structure that the schoolboy football game gave to me via my club, my league and the schoolboy association.

“Not alone did schoolboy football keep me and my pals healthy and out of trouble, it also offered me the foundation for a life changing career to follow. That simply would not have happened without that start and that is why I was so pleased to have been asked to lend my name and my support to the John Giles Foundation back in 2008.

“It is a matter of great pride for me and my family to acknowledge that over €700,000 was raised and distributed to Grassroots clubs looking after boys and girls all across Ireland by the John Giles Foundation. I know from my many trips to these clubs in every corner of the country what a difference that funding made to the brilliant, vital and generous work of these clubs.

“Like everything else, the work of the Foundation ground to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic and nor am I getting any younger, so the time has come to wrap up the work of the Foundation. In doing so I would like to record my appreciation for the support of the FAI and to thank so many people within the Association for everything they did for the Foundation. I would particularly like to thank Pat Duffy for his dedication, insight and kindness over the years. Without him, the Foundation would not have succeeded.

“I also want to thank all who helped us along the way over the years for their selfless work and a word of thanks also to my good friend Oliver Barry for his generous provision of Hollystown Golf Club for so many events over the lifetime of the Foundation. 

“I leave with a heavy but proud heart but also in the knowledge that all our good work will be carried on now by the FAI under the watchful eye of CEO Jonathan Hill. I know Jonathan and the Association share my view that every young boy and girl deserves the best opportunity to enjoy their football and develop their skills to the best of their ability. Our volunteers at all our clubs are dedicated to that ambition, their contribution is immense and they are the real heroes in our game. I wish them all well and thank them all for making my football life all the richer.”

Speaking on behalf of the FAI, CEO Jonathan Hill said: “John Giles is a legend of the Irish game and his contribution to Grassroots football via the John Giles Foundation has been immense for the past 14 years. On behalf of the FAI and the wider Irish football community I want to thank John for his wonderful work with the Foundation and wish him and his family well in the future.”

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