Thu, Mar 16, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Irish influence converting Taiwanese to Gaelic Football

The Taiwan Celts are promising a day out for the whole family, with kids’ games, Taiwanese teams and a lot of Irish culture as they stage their annual tournament to mark St Patrick’s Day

By Grant Dexter  /  Staff reporter

Rebecca Keiller, third right, passes the ball to a teammate during a Gaelic football training session at the Bailing Rugby Fields in Shilin District, Taipei, on March 11 2017.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Chen

The Taiwan Celts’ St Patrick’s Day Festival and Gaelic Football Tournament on Saturday is promising a great day for its first year running, making the plunge with Taiwan’s first-ever youth game.

The Gaelic football club was founded in 1995 by a group of young Irish college graduates and is headed by president and coach Brian Fitzpatrick, an Irishman who, along with fellow PE teachers Natalie Turner and Paul Rose, is promoting a fun family day at the Banciao Stadium (板橋體育場) in New Taipei City.

“We wanted to celebrate St Patrick’s Weekend with some Irish festivities, so we decided to organize a Gaelic Football Tournament,” Fitzpatrick said.

The main tournament is the Derek Brady Memorial Cup, with men’s and women’s competitions.

However, the organizers are eager to see the sport take root among Taiwanese.

“After competing in several tournaments overseas, it was so neat to see teams like Japan have a full squad of all local Japanese players and compete victoriously,” said Turner, a Canadian. “This is what the Taiwan Celts are shooting for now. After consistently sending two teams — one men’s and one women’s team — abroad to compete in the Asian Gaelic Games, we are now striving to send an all-Taiwanese team.”

The event offers kids’ games as a means of promoting Irish culture.

“We want to continue to develop the sport and share our love of the game with the Taiwanese community, all while honoring Irish culture and the cherished legacy of former Taiwan Celts player Derek Brady,” Turner said.

Brady, a founding member, tragically died in a Taipei traffic accident in 1996, aged 22.

New Zealander Rose said the sport provides a healthy environment and that the group are welcoming and always happy to introduce new people to the sport from all nationalities and experience levels.

Performance Notes

What: Taiwan Celts’ St Patrick’s Day Festival and Gaelic Football Tournament

Where: Banciao Stadium (板橋體育場), 278, Hansheng E Rd, New Taipei City (台北縣板橋市漢生東路278號)

When: Saturday, 12pm to 6pm

Admission: Free

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“While we take take our sport pretty seriously, it is also a very social group and a great place to meet new people and make new friends,” he said.

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