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 at UL this week to launch this year’s Aldi Community Games festivals, and to celebrate the new three-year deal which sees University of Limerick become the new home for the Aldi Community Games Festivals 2018 to 2020.
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 at 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.
Speaking at the launch, UL President welcomed the Aldi Community Games to UL and said:
“A modern university needs living links to the community around it. We flourish when we provide opportunities for community members to contribute to our cultural, social and economic development. It is crucial for us in UL to know that this community feels that connection, that sense of ownership over its university. I think that this new partnership with the Aldi Community Games will help to further that ambition.”