Ballinhassig soccer club thriving in a GAA heartland

They now have 17 teams, 350 players registered and up to 40 coaches 
Ballinhassig soccer club thriving in a GAA heartland

Sebastian Pons Llando, Ballinhassig, about to go past Daniel Searl, Kinsale during their Beamish Stout MSL First Division match at Madden Park. Picture Dan Linehan

BALLINHASSIG AFC have restructured to ensure they grow on and off the football pitch.

Dáire Coughlan, chairman for the last number of years, has stepped into a new director-of-coaching role and he has been replaced by long-term servant Gerard Spillane.

Spillane, whose late father, Sean, was previously the club’s president, represented the club on the pitch across five decades in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, before even lining out a few times for the juniors in the 2010s.

Spillane said he is confident he can continue the progress they have made in recent times.

“Daire had been there a long time and he was immense for the club; he was probably doing too much,” said Spillane.

“He asked me to come on board, we have restructured the club subsequently to try and make sure that not all the work falls on one person’s shoulders.

LONG TERM

“I have been with the club since 1979, as a player, as a coach, as a parent, as a supporter, everything, and eventually I have made my way up to becoming chairman.

“I will work closely with Daire on the football side, but my focus is to try and grow the club over the next five or 10 years.

We have really nice grounds in Gortnaglough, we have been there for 20 years, but what I will be looking to do is to develop it further going forward.

“We have 17 teams in the club, we have something like 350 players registered within the club that goes from academy underage to adults, we have something like 30 to 40 coaches as well.

“It’s a big club now, it’s a senior club, we’re in a GAA stronghold, but we are a big soccer club in our own right. We need to take ourselves to the next level as a club. It’s a big change going from being a player, to a coach, to becoming chairman, and stepping into the backroom.

“It has been a huge eye-opener to see the amount of work that goes on from all the volunteers across the club.

“For me, it’s about giving back to the club. I have taken so much enjoyment from playing and coaching, so this is about giving back to the club for all those years of enjoyment.

“I’m just looking forward to, hopefully, taking the club that few strides forward to make it better for the next generation coming up.

“If I can do that, I would be immensely proud. I will look to take my ethic on the pitch to the backroom.”

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