Sligo Rovers/FAI Primary Schools Programme launched

Schools across county Sligo are being encouraged to enrol in what will be the third year of the FAI Primary Schools Programme.

The initiative, which takes place in partnership with Sligo Rovers, is both a classroom and outdoor based programme which focuses on nutrition, fitness, inclusion of all, football skills and Rovers’ impact in the community.

The classes, which are 50 minutes per week will be delivered amongst five fully-qualified FAI coaches who will be assisted by transition year students from Summerhill College.

Weeks one, three, five and six are each about the development of skills. While week two focuses on a nutrition and food diary project. Week four is a session based on anti-racism initiatives. While week seven will be all about the Bit O’Red and the club’s role in the local community.

The programme is unique to Sligo and is the brainchild of former Rovers playmaker and the FAI’s Development Officer for Sligo/Leitrim, John Russell.

Speaking at the launch of the 2018 edition at St John’s NS in Sligo last week, John says the initial feedback from schools has been hugely positive, with a number already signed up.

“We’ve sent information out to all schools in Sligo and we’ve had six schools back even before we’ve launched the programme”, he says.

“So that’s a great sign. A few of those schools are returns from last year. We’re hoping that between now and Christmas we’ll have a few more coming on board and we’ll add to that in the new year.”

Russell noted that both Rovers and the FAI were keen to play a part in the health and well-being of primary school children.

“From our point of view, we know how important it is for us to be out there and helping kids gets active”, he states.

“Football is the number one sport in the country and you don’t need much equipment to play it. All you need is a football, bibs and cones and off you go. We know how important it is for the kids to eat right too, so we’ll be giving the kids loads of information on that.”

Marketing and PR Officer at Sligo Rovers, Shane Crossan said given the club’s strong ties throughout in the county, they were keen to continue their association with such an initiative.

“This digs deep into the club’s ethos of being a community club”, he said. “It’s well known that we’ve made great strides in terms of our Super Reds initiative with summer camps and birthday parties.

“It’s great to have the kids in to the Showgrounds, but this offers a different pathway in making a connection with them in their own schools. For us, it’s how do we turn them from a fringe supporter into a long term supporter.

“To get in and let the children meet the players, learn about the cub and importantly, listen to the kids themselves, that is invaluable to us.”

Teacher at St John’s, Michael Bree said the school was delighted to take part, not solely because of the lifestyle benefits for the children, but also because of the opportunity of progressing the pupils’ football skills.

“Football would be the main sport played in the school when the pupils are out in the yard”, he explains. “It’s great now to have the opportunity to bring coaches in to teach them the basic skills especially for the junior and senior infant pupils.

The programme costs €150 per school class and €250 if a second class participates. For more information, schools can contact head coach Darragh Healy at