Like many parents, once my children reached the age of 4, my role at weekends and evening started to change from in-house entertainment and supervision of the kids to team bus driver and kit man. I have no intention of portraying an image of sainthood, or to come across as a unique phenomenon in Irish society, but hopefully some of my observations will strike a chord with people. Whether you are starting out as a habitual parental supporter of the next Robbie Brady, Brid Stack or Johnnie Sexton, prowling touchlines menacingly, ready to run onto the pitch to protect your vulnerable offspring from physical attack, or an old hand…you might recognise some of following experiences.

Our CEO Pat Lucey is a legend in his own right in the field of project management. Having joined Aspira as HR & Resourcing Manager, I wasn’t ever able to live up to his expectations as a certified Prince 2 or PMP Professional. But Pat always highlighted aspects of my business and personal life that represented a high degree of PM & organisational skills. People who know me long enough will know of my interest in sports management, be that skiing trips, bowling competitions, tobogganing, cricket matches, or the once famous Silicon Cup in Munich. All projects of various shapes and sizes, none quite as complex as the Silicon Cup Competition in Germany. (8 companies playing each other at 11-a-side soccer in a one day tournament).

It started small, procuring kit and encouraging my son & daughter out of the beds on a Saturday morning to prepare for the local CCHC Camogie nursery or feted Fundamental Football Academy at Castleknock Celtic. This first incursion into Human Resource Management was mostly notable for finding the shin pads, track suits, gum shields, hurl, boots and other paraphernalia that was so casually discarded the previous week in various corners of the house. The initial approach was to do it all myself. The kids got used to this of course, and expected me to do it all for them. Luckily as a man with strong fingernails, I was able to get the football socks on my son eventually. The socks get smaller every week, the material contracts, and you need to build in contingency to pre-stretch them for 3 hours before the “leaving the house” phase. As we all know, 4 and 5 year olds do not understand time whatsoever. It is a fatal assumption to make that your daughter will understand what “we will be leaving at 9.30 latest” actually means. Time management is critical, because Daddy will always make out he knows where Ballymashindig’s home ground is, (just off the Navan Rd., just after the Church, behind the Spar.) Daddy will drive in the general direction of the Ground, ignoring the helpful map provided by the Mentor, and at the last minute revert to the low spec sat nav or phone app to try and bail himself out of the embarrassment of being late again. It is at this point that your key stakeholders will suddenly be able to tell the time, and realise that they might not get to play because of Daddy’s over confidence in his navigational skills of Dublin suburbs.

From a communications side, there are some very basic rules for your daughter that do not apply with your son. When watching camogie matches, don’t say anything whilst on the side-line. You are English, and know nothing about GAA, so please don’t embarrass yourself or me by trying to say something intelligent. Don’t make smart comments about needing a calculator to work out what 2 goals and 11 points v 3 goals and 6 points means. Don’t comment on the other players or talk to them. If engaging with the mentors and other parents, don’t disclose any information about your daughter’s personal life. I will be moody after the game, so accept it. If however at any time I need you, there will be an SLA in place that requires you to give me your undivided attention within 5 seconds. (Provision of drink, spare hurl, tie shoelaces etc etc). So, why is your son different? Women’s sport has been a massive part of my daughter’s life, and I am eternally grateful for all the hours spent together in various parts of the country and on a variety of surfaces. And my son has presented me with a number of key moments in my life on sporting fields that will stay with me forever. My current role as Mentor to a team at Castleknock Celtic is thanks to my children.

I was asked to help at the Academy at Castleknock, and have continued my association with the Club by managing teams at the 2003 age Group since 2007. Seeing all of the kids grow and develop onto the first and second teams over that time is a tremendous feeling. The D15 area is a real Sports community and I feel proud to have played a small part in that. Aspira have a CSR policy that really supports this type of activity. As parents ourselves, we all try and provide a working environment for Aspira staff and partners that allows people to watch, support and contribute to local sport. Cork City recognise this at a higher level, but it is the teams like Castleknock Celtic at grass roots that really appreciate companies like Aspira sponsoring them, or providing mentors or coaches. A simple aspect of this is flexible working hours to get to training on time.

When the opportunity to get our names on the shirts of CCFC 14A1 came along we didn’t need asking twice! As the season unfolds, we will be featuring the development of this new team on our website as part of our CSR updates. The team was formed to facilitate the next wave of development players at 2003 level. With two wins under our belt already, we are ahead of schedule. Let the project begin…..

Russell Moore, HR & Resourcing Manager, Aspira.

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