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Defibs Programme Launched For Grassroots Football Clubs

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, captain Seamus Coleman and defender Shane Duffy joined Minister for Sport Jack Chambers for the announcement of a new FAI programme for Grassroots football, funded by Government, to provide subsidised defibs for Grassroots football clubs in phase three of the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care programme.

The FAI driven Grassroots scheme will see over 300 clubs offered a state-of-the-art LIFEPAK CR2 (cellular version) defibrillator along with an eight-year mobile phone data plan and training for 10 people in Basic Life Support and use of an Automatic External Defibrillator. This package is valued at €3600 but benefits from an FAI discount which brings the total cost down to €2500. Thanks to Government funding of almost €400,000, negotiated by the FAI on behalf of the Grassroots game, the package will be made available to the 316 selected clubs at a reduced cost of €1250.

This amounts to a 50 per cent discount on the package cost price, with the balance funded by the FAI and Government and distributed via the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care programme founded in 2018.

Grassroots Clubs will be invited to first register their interest in the defibrillator programme at by close of business on June 21st. The FAI will then select 316 clubs, based on a selection criteria, to avail of the discounted offer, capped at one per club, but all clubs can also apply to purchase extra defib units and training at the discounted cost of €2500. Each club will have access to an online fundraising site.

FAI Board member Packie Bonner and Grassroots Director Ger McDermott were also present at Abbotstown alongside Heartsafety Solutions Managing Director David Greville whose company will supply the defibs and provide training to the clubs.

The LIFEPAK CR2 defibrillator is unique in that it is connected to the internet via the mobile phone network and will alert club members if the unit fails a self-test or the battery is running low. This greatly reduces the risk of it not being ready when needed in a rescue.

Speaking at the launch Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers TD said, “I am delighted to be able to support this initiative which will literally save lives in football clubs all around the country. In this regard, my department provided €395,000 in capital funding which was used to purchase the defibrillators. The health benefits of football and sports participation cannot be understated but it is crucial that as we encourage more people of all ages and abilities to play, get active and exercise, we ensure everyone can do so in a safe environment. I would like to thank the FAI for making the installation of defibrillators in clubs such a high priority, as well as all those supporting this important initiative.”

FAI CEO Jonathan Hill commented, “this announcement highlights the FAI’s commitment to our Grassroots game which is mirrored by our Government. Their financial backing for our Grassroots clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic and this fantastic support for the defibrillator programme shows how aligned they are with our Grassroots stakeholders in such a vital area.”

“The recent incident at St Francis FC, when a young footballer’s life was saved thanks to the presence of a defibrillator unit onsite, and the Christian Eriksen case at Euro 2020 only highlight how important defibs are for our game, our clubs and the wider community. This FAI Grassroots initiative will allow us to expand the provision of defibrillator units across the country and will also provide training and back up to our clubs. Great credit is due to Minister Chambers and his Department for backing this plan and I would also like to pay tribute to all involved with the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care programme and our own staff for bringing this project to life.”

FAI President Gerry McAnaney remarked, “the backing by Minister Chambers and Government for this defib programme, as the latest phase of the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care programme, is most welcome. We have seen on so many occasions all across Ireland just how vital defibrillator units are and this investment will allow our clubs to avail of life saving equipment for their members and their communities. I encourage all our clubs to sign up for this programme.”

With over 5,000 Sudden Cardiac Deaths in Ireland every year, Mrs. Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O’Carroll and his wife Jenny and the FAI are delighted to expand their Heart Care programme, launched in 2018, into Grassroots football with this defibrillator offer.

The Heart Care Programme has already referred 85 young footballers for cardiology assessment and treatment, 50 of these referrals were based on ECG results, 30 on physical examination and/or symptoms and five on family history.

Brendan O’Carroll said, “Jenny and I and our family are thrilled that the Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ involvement with the FAI on our Heart Care initiative now has the full support of the Government. This move will, beyond any doubt, be a life saver for many young people. We don’t know of any better reason to do something that will make their passion for the beautiful game of soccer safer for our young people.”

Heartsafety Solutions Managing Director David Greville said, “we’re delighted to partner with the FAI for this initiative that will undoubtedly save lives. We have all witnessed the benefits of having an AED (automated external defibrillator) nearby with the Christian Eriksen cardiac arrest during the Euros last year and the similar Fabrice Muamba event 10 years ago. The chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest is reduced by 10% for every minute delayed in treatment from a defibrillator and CPR from a rescuer, so having one in the vicinity where cardiac arrests may occur is vital.”

Speaking at the photoshoot, FAI Medical Director Dr Alan Byrne said, “with the support of the Government and the Mrs. Brown’s Boys FAI Heart Care programme, we can really expand the presence of defibrillator units at our Grassroots clubs. The benefits to all our players and supporters will be immense but these units will also play a vital role in saving lives in our communities. As the FAI’s Medical Director, I want to thank Minister Chambers, Dave Greville and his team at Heartsafety Solutions and Brendan, Jenny and everyone involved with Mrs. Brown’s Boys for their commitment and support of this latest phase of the Heart Care Programme.”

Source: Football Association of Ireland


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