By Garrett Mullan,
How poignant that on the day of the World Cup Soccer final, 15 years since the Rugby World Cup that two South African teenage brothers, Juvan and Christivan Maritz who are now resident in Balrothery Co Dublin, took the opportunity to take a tour of the GAA museum and watch the controversial Leinster final between Meath and Louth.
Christivan and Juvan had just returned from the Show Racism the Red Card Intercultural Summer Camp which took place between 5-10th July in Ghleann Cholumcille, Co Donegal. Their mother Chantelle said that it was appropriate they they as 15 year olds did some learning around the experience of racism for it is only 16 years since the first democratic elections.
The purpose of the camp was to bring young people living in Ireland of different backgrounds together for a week of intercultural learning and fun. Among the acitivities of the camp were Indian, Irish, Russian and Slovenian songs, stories and dances. There was also languages learning including Irish, Esperanto, French, Spanish, Russian and Slovenian.
41 young people from Derry, Donegal, Dublin, Leitrim and Cork took part in the camp which lasted five days. About half were from Irish backgrounds while the remainder were from Congolese, Indian, Iranian, Kurdish, Polish, Ugandan, Ukrainian backgrounds but living in Ireland also. While some of the young people had never played Gaelic football before, a day of Gaelic Games activities was held in St Columba’s in Ghleann Cholumbcille. However, we also learned that there are children of Kurdish backgrounds who are enthusiasts for St Mary’s GAC in Leitrim.
Christivan and Juvan who won the raffle for the guided tour courtesy of GAA Intercultural and Inclusion officer Tony Watene were delighted to visit Croke Park on the same day as the World Cup final which was taking place in their home country. The boys were hugely impressed with the the stadium and its history.
Christivan says: ” Croke Park is so huge! Its the biggest place ever but Croke Park is more than just a sport stadium…..the spectators are mad over their sport in there”
Juvan adds: ” The GAA sport is very old and the people are so proud of it, it was nice to be in a place where people want me to learn about their traditions. Now I live in Dublin. I love my sport and this all makes me think that I want to learn how to play the Irish football. Imagine if I can play on Croke Park one day? The Dubs colours are exactly the colours of my rugby team back home, it makes me home sick”