Some high quality offerings from the smoldering one man hub of creativity that is David Cunningham. In a short space of time, he was able to put together an official AYC Press Release, an official AYC Publicity Banner and an official AYC Poster. Great to have Davey back from Cambodia for the run in for the Asian Youth Championship.
In the week following the visit of President Michael D. Higgins to Vietnam, the Asian County Board and the Viet Celts will host the first ever Asian Youth Championship (AYC) in Gaelic Football . Around 150 youth players are expected to be present on the day, spread across 14 teams and representing 5 Vietnamese schools/clubs and 4 international clubs/schools from – Shanghai (China), Seoul Gaels, Korean International School and Gimhae (All Korea). Nationwide AFL club, the Vietnam Swans are a late entry with a team in the U12 competition.
This championship represents a huge milestone for those involved and for the game itself. It will be the culmination of 8 years of hard work, training and commitment to the ideal that team sports can be extremely beneficial for an individual’s physical and social development. The staging of this tournament also bears testament to the collaborative attitude among Irish migrants living in Asia and their willingness to engage in non-profit, community development activities.
Founded in 1996, the Asian County Board has been instrumental in spreading Gaelic games around Asia. The Viet Celts was formed in 2007 and has hosted three South Asian Gaelic Games. The club has long been at the forefront of developing youth Gaelic Football in Asia. The All-Vietnam Schools Cup has been a permanent fixture in the calendar since 2010, when VAS Hanoi beat Hanoi Academy in the final. The Hanoi Youth Cup is another annual competition. Past winners of both competitions include Hanoi Academy, VAS Hanoi, Hanoi International School (HIS), SIS Ciputra, Blue Dragon GFC and SIS Gamuda.
Although some of the children playing at the AYC are actually Irish, what makes this event especially unique is the variety of nationalities which will be playing what is often considered a uniquely Irish sport. Some teams have a Vietnamese or Irish core while others are built around a mix of international and local children. Nationalities represented will include a variety of European, Asian and Anglophone nations, as well as many children from mixed marriages.
This multicultural inclusivity epitomises the spirit of Gaelic games at an international level. This competition and the participating clubs provide the perfect pathways both to spread Irish culture and to help Irish migrants integrate into local communities.
One particular point of pride for local organisers is that Vietnam will be strongly represented by the players of Blue Dragon’s Children Foundation – the only club with players in every age category. Blue Dragon GFC was set up at the start of 2015 with support from the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’ Global Games Development Fund. O’Neills have also come in with support in the form of the Gaelic Footballs for the tournament.