Former Ireland, British & Irish Lions and Munster captain Paul O’Connell and Olympic Bronze Medalist Rob Heffernan were joined by children from Limerick Community Games in University of Limerick today to launch this year’s Aldi Community Games festivals and to celebrate the new three year deal which sees The University of Limerick become the new home for the Aldi Community Games Festivals 2018 to 2020.
This year marks the second of a three-year sponsorship by Aldi Ireland to invest in and support the event for future generations. Aldi Community Games aims to encourage and introduce young people to a love of sport and culture, focusing on participation rather than winning.
More than 160,000 children across 575 communities are expected to take part in over 200 scheduled regional events supported by 20,000 volunteers. The National Festivals will take place in the University of Limerick in May (25th – 27th) and August (17th – 19th), and will bring together the regional champions in friendly competition across a wide range of sporting and cultural activities, individual and team sports.
Speaking at the launch today, Aldi Play Rugby Ambassador and former Community Games competitor Paul O’Connell commented, “Swimming was my favourite sport growing up and I got my first taste of competition at Community Games. I remember loving the feeling of representing Limerick and it always motivated me to do well. Taking part in Community Games helped me immensely in terms of my confidence and I learnt the importance of preparation, determination and dedication - values I later applied on the rugby pitch. I’m now into the second year working with Aldi as an ambassador for Aldi Play Rugby. Between working on this and seeing what they have done with Aldi Community Games, it is clear to me the great commitment Aldi has to developing the community support initiatives that they are involved in.”
Olympic Bronze Medalist, and former Community Games competitor Rob Heffernan said, “Aldi Community Games is all about participation. Children come from all over Ireland, and being around their peers and having fun in a safe and sporting environment is better than any medal they could win. The event sends a message to children from an early age that they can achieve their dreams no matter how big or small through local and national sporting and cultural events. I have the fondest memories of my time taking part.”
Over the past 51 years more than 5 million children have participated in Community Games, including many of Ireland’s celebrities, sporting heroes and world-famous actors. Some of the names in the history books include Paul O’Connell, Rob Heffernan, Saoirse Ronan, Niall Horan, Olive Loughnane, Niall Breslin known as Bressie, Niall Quinn, Colin Farrell and Sonia O’Sullivan.
Dr Cate Hartigan, Assistant National Director, HSE, Health Promotion & Improvement commented “I am delighted to see the next chapter in the Community Games story being opened, with this announcement. The HSE has been a long term supporter and core funder of the Community Games, as we collectively strive to promote and encourage children and their parents to adopt healthier lifestyles across different communities in Ireland. My hope is that this move will attract a lot of new participants to the games, in addition to keeping the existing ones. I am equally pleased for the University of Limerick, as a Healthy Campus, the campus shares with us the vision and values of Healthy Ireland, as we work to promote healthy living in Ireland.”
Speaking at the launch, Finbar McCarthy, Group Buying Director, Aldi Ireland, said,
“At Aldi our competitive nature ensures that we will never be beaten on price. We have also made an equally strong commitment to promoting active, healthy lifestyles for Ireland’s next generation, and teaming up with Community Games, and indeed the IRFU, is built on that vision.”
“The first year of our partnership with Community Games was a huge success and I have no doubt 2018 will exceed our expectations. I would like to wish all the children and volunteers taking part in the hundreds of events up and down the country over the next few months the very best and hopefully they will make it to the University of Limerick for the National Festivals next May and August.”
Community Games CEO John Byrne added, “We are looking forward to a new era for Community Games as we embark on a three-year partnership with University of Limerick to host our National Festivals. With the support of our title sponsor Aldi and our other corporate partners in the promotion of healthy lifestyles we are confident that a bright future lies ahead as we begin our sixth decade as Ireland’s leading sporting and cultural organisation.
James Brooks, Managing Director of Kia Motors Ireland, “We are delighted to be associated with Community Games, Kia is primarily a family brand and we see a great fit between the organisation and our customer base. We are looking forward to promoting the Community Games in the lead up to the national finals in May and August at its new home of the University of Limerick.”
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