SHAMROCK Rovers are in the running for a prestigious industry award following their wildly successful viral campaign #FootballLovesUs.
The Tallaght club ran the initiative, which aimed to encourage kids to get out and play football on the streets over Christmas and received worldwide acclaim.
The campaign featured videos of coaches Damien Duff and Glenn Cronin, as well as members of the Rovers academy, doing drills and playing games that have been passed down generations.
Former Ireland captain Richard Dunne was one high-profile name to send in his own video as the hashtag went viral on social media and reached all five continents.
Now Rovers have been shortlisted for the Digital Engagement Community Award at the annual Sports Industry Awards, where they’re up against the likes of AIB/GAA and Vodafone/IRFU.
“Damien approached me when it was coming to the end of the season about getting sessions together for his players over Christmas,” Cronin told the Dublin Gazette,
“Because obviously they wouldn’t be training and there’s a long break. Then we sat down and we said, ‘why don’t we do Whatsapp videos?’
“Not all of them have a training ground, so why don’t we come up with street games that we would have played as kids, stuff that they can play in their garden or work on their touch.
“We needed to get it out before Christmas, so Damien was straight down and we got them out. We did about 10 or 11 videos in an hour or so; we banged them out.
“It was basically just games we would have played as kids. I did it in Ballyfermot in exactly the same place where I would have played them games as a kid.
“When I was a kid, if I walked out of my house, my brother would be there with his mates, the older lads. I’d just rock up and ask for a game.
“I don’t think there’s anybody out there anymore passing these games on. It was to give kids ideas to get out there and play. The older brothers aren’t out there anymore – it’s a different generation.”
Board director Mark Lynch, who handled the social media campaign, added: “It was very rewarding to see that a lot of people picked up on the health and well-being element physical activity brings.
“We were bringing it through social media platforms, but we were bringing it in a fashion that anyone, without any particular equipment, could get involved.
“All you needed was a round-shaped ball and, as one of the videos showed, they were using a two-litre bottle of Fanta as cones to run around.
“One kid was in the inner city and he was going around the pedestrian bollards to do his slaloms for the drill.
“It does hit the mark on lots of levels, and the community involvement of anyone from any age, and the community involvement of anyone from any age, shape or creed to participate in any form was very rewarding as an outcome.”