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Craigavon Cowboys blitz forward with fundraising to ‘safeguard their future’

The club are perhaps most proud of their ability to ‘continuously provide this wonderful sport to our local community at low cost'

Credit: Paul McIlwaine Photography

One of Ireland’s longest running American football clubs has entered into a fundraising drive in order to ‘safeguard their future’ with the introduction of safe, new equipment.

Well known Craigavon Cowboys American Football Club was founded in 1985 and is one of the longest running American football clubs in Ireland.

And it’s not all fancy jerseys and no kickers! The club has a demonstrated record of success across its almost 40 years in operation, racking up countless achievements, including multiple all-Ireland titles at senior, youth and flag level.

However, what the club members are perhaps most proud of is their ability to “continuously provide this wonderful sport to our local community at low cost”.

Citing the 2017 Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure (NIMDM) report, the club state that “the Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon domain is among the most deprived NI regions, therefore this commitment is vital to allow all in our local community to enjoy American football”.

In order to help keep costs low and open the sport to the masses, the Cowboys put great emphasis on providing safe playing equipment ‘on loan’ to players.

And this is something that Public Relations Officer Jo Buchanan believes is unique to the club.

Speaking to Armagh I, Jo explained the rationale behind easing the financial burden to players: “The cheapest equipment would probably be about £500-600 for the full works.

“There’s some clubs in Dublin and they don’t do what we do in terms of loaning the equipment to players; like the helmets and shoulder pads which tend to be the most expensive things, so that they aren’t out the expense and it breaks down that financial barrier in terms of getting people involved in the sport.

“For the first two, maybe three years people will use the club’s equipment and then they will buy their own.

“Generally it’s for anyone who is coming down so they get to give it a go before they even think about buying anything.

“It’s always been the case right back from day one. Unfortunately that status for Craigavon hasn’t really changed in terms of deprivation so that’s always been at the core of our values and of our mission statement.”

As with all sports equipment, general wear and tear is inevitable and replenishment of essential helmets and shoulder pads is now a necessity – but there’s a more pressing issue.

Added Jo: “Helmets run out of warranty after 10 years so after that runs out you are basically due to get more. We are making a real concerted effort to raise money before they go out of warranty.”

With some 40 players in their senior team and approximately 65 club members, the safety of all individuals involved is paramount.

Over the next fortnight the Cowboys will blitz forward in an effort to secure grant funding and collate additional monies through fundraising efforts in the hopes of touching down on their £3,000 target.

All monies raised will go towards the purchase of 10 essential new helmets and eight pairs of shoulder pads.

For those wishing to support the effort, the Cowboys would be grateful for any donations made to their GoFundMe page and a table quiz is in the pipeline for sometime in June – details of which may be found on the club’s Facebook page here.

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