Saturday night lights

by Stephen Findlater

LUCAN will host its first Saturday soccer Late Night Leagues at Weston hockey club’s Astroturf pitch in Griffeen Valley Park as part of a highly successful project run by the Garda, the FAI and the city’s local councils.

Stephen Rice, development officer in the Lucan area for the FAI and South Dublin County Council, explained that the leagues start at 8pm for the next four Saturday nights and are open to players aged 14 to 18.

The idea is to create “a fun, safe environment to play football” and has been highly successful in places like Swords and Tallaght in recent years to reduce anti-social behaviour.”

“It’s an initiative that’s been running five or six years across the city,” Rice, a League of Ireland star with Shamrock Rovers, told GazetteSport.

“Basically, it’s targeting teenagers at times when they are most likely to get involved in anti-social behaviour. We’re trying to engage them with Garda, with the FAI and the council.

“The Garda are heavily involved in getting the facility and recruiting players, helping us get teams in. On the night, they will interact with the players and build a relationship with them in a different environment to what they are used to, in a more relaxed way.”

“It is also being run in Tallaght and the Clondalkin Leisure Centre and Collinstown on the same weekends and throughout Dublin like Ballymun, Crumlin, East Wall and so on. After four Saturday evenings, the winning team and the most sporting team will go forward to a finals night from all over Dublin.”

Rice has been involved as a development officer in the area for the past six months and is looking forward to getting the programme up and running in Lucan and is calling on players to come along on Saturday.

Teams of five with two subs will be made up and even if players cannot put together a full team, they are encouraged to come along and get involved in the activities on the night.

“There’s never been one in Lucan before but from dealing with the Garda already, there are some issues with kids hanging around and maybe not having enough to do on a Saturday night and turn to anti-social behaviour like alcohol and so on.

“We put the responsibility on the players themselves to get their own team together from their own road, your club or whatever it may be. Hopefully, we’ll get a big crowd and a lot of interest.”

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