Pigs Bladder Football

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This article was written on 12 Sep 2011, and is filled under 2011, News, Workshop.

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My experience of the Games Development Day

Michael Maguire reflects on our Games Development afternoon:


First of all I would like to say how much I enjoyed the day in Egremont and found it very rewarding and beneficial to my development in coaching and teaching.

On the Saturday evening when I met with John he started by showing me the video of the Uppies and Downies game from earlier this year. I found this to be an extremely interesting game which brings out a lot of community spirit and togetherness. It, like the GAA in my case, appears to be a part of the towns’ culture and something which the whole town looks forward to all year. After this I watched a short video of the workshop in which balls were made out of pigs’ bladders.

These balls were then on display at the games development day. I was somewhat surprised by the dry almost paper like feel of the balls. However it was still interesting to see the different properties of each of them and think what type of sport each of them could be used for.

Having watched these videos and listening to John give me an insight into what the aim of the day was, I was quite apprehensive as to how much this could be achieved. However on the day, after talking to local man, Joe Clark from the Uppies and Downies and representatives from Egremont Crab Fair it became clear to me how the crab fair is an important part in the local community’s calendar. Therefore for many of the children who came along, the thought of creating a game to be showcased at the fair was a huge incentive for them and got them enthused.

From my own experience as a teacher and of coaching Gaelic games I was aware of the importance of getting and keeping children involved and interested. The many different types of ball and equipment available seemed to do this. When coaching Gaelic games to young children I always try to involve a game situation. This is not necessarily a game of Gaelic football, most of the time it is a game focusing on one of the skills therefore new games have to be invented and adapted to bring progression. Using these experiences I tried to encourage the children to think of individual skills which will be important for the games they are inventing.

Having looked back at the day with John, we both noticed the difference in approach from boys and girls to the workshop. The girls were extremely enthusiastic and eager to express themselves and come up with ideas of different new games and skills, whereas the boys struggled to get away from football. All the boys who dropped in to the session were all keen football followers and therefore any game they thought of was football based. John and I then had to encourage them to think of other sports and skills involved, this led to them losing interest after about 30 minutes. Luckily enough the girls stayed on and give some brilliant ideas.

In the end ‘Tackle Ball’ was the main game which was formed on the day thanks to Shannon and Jessica. The best way I could possibly describe this game would be like wrestling only with a ball involved. It is a game which requires a lot of determination and grit (which I had in abundance as John found out) while also requiring a cool head and discipline. As the girls mentioned when describing the game there will have to be different age groups for competition in order to avoid injuries.

All in all it was a successful day with many of the targets being achieved. The Facilities provided by the Falcon Club were second to none, with great playing surfaces and most importantly of all the weather was perfect which meant people could join in without being cold or getting soaked.

Hopefully in the future I can be involved in more days like this and I will definitely be trying to get up to the Crab Fair to see how the locals take to ‘Tackle Ball’.

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