How often have we heard the Compromise Rules series defended as the only international outlet for our beloved national games? Merde, if you'll pardon my French.
When one thinks of GAA played abroad it's natural to think of the UK, the USA or Australia and the strong Irish diaspora living there.
Well, not anymore. It's time to broaden your mind. Take for example a French woman playing Gaelic football for Paris Gaels who first learned how to play GAA in Shanghai. Yes, Shanghai. China. Globalisation went that deep it also touched the GAA.
Despite their number across the city ten years ago in Madrid it wasn't possible to find an Irish bar that showed GAA. Now there's even a team in Pamplona. In the last ten years in Europe GAA seeds have taken flight across the continent and numerous clubs from Brest to Budapest have taken sprout:
- Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Pamplona
- France - Brest, Rennes, Paris, Lyons
- The Netherlands - The Hague, Amsterdam, Maastricht
- Belgium - Brussels
- Austria - Vienna
- Denmark - Copehagen
- Germany - Munich, Dusseldorf
- Sweden - Gotenburg
- Hungary - Budapest
While it is true that some of these clubs rely on the Irish community living abroad for their existence the game is also taking root in some parts through the efforts and gra for the game of the locals. In Rennes there's only one Irish person permanently involved in the game and yet Rennes will host 20 teams from across Europe next weekend for the European Gaelic Football Shield and Championship semi-finals. Not only have the local GAA enthusiasts planned and organised the tournament, but they've also succeeded in promoting and developing the GAA in schools in Brittany. And so, for the first time two schools from Rennes and Vannes will participate in the tournament. (There's more details here in the European Irish.)
The GAA is involved and has put some structure in place to promote Gaelic games in Europe. Still, one can't help wondering, instead of spending lots of money to send GAA players long distances to play a bastardised game that's not even GAA, would it not be better to spend a bit more money on those who want to play Gaelic games instead?