To address the €225,000 Olympic shortfall in funding, the Irish men’s team launched their main fundraiser this morning via the Pledge Sports platform as they look to fill the financial gap and give them the best chance at Rio 2016.
The theme of campaign is Obsession, what “separates a great hockey player from an international hockey player”.
“Determination, sacrifice, desire and obsession have been at the heart of the Green Machine’s journey to the Rio 2016 Olympics.”
Donations are being gratefully received with supporters giving €100 receiving a signed team photo, €750 a limited edition print, €2,500 a signed limited edition team Ireland Olympic jersey while company’s can sponsor one of the summer series confirmed this week for €6,000.
The campaign also outlines the costs it takes to run a side on a professional basis like the vast majority of Ireland’s rivals in Brazil.
The launch is well-timed, coming 100 days before the Games’ Opening Ceremony. Marking that milestone, the Olympic Council of Ireland held a media briefing at which Mitch Darling and Stephen Barry spoke to the Examiner’s Cathal Dennehy where they explained the difficulties the Irish team have.
“A lot of guys are taking leave from work or taking a year out from college,” says team leader, Stephen Barry. “It’s a hit they’ve taken to get to their dreams.”
Darling, meanwhile, adds that this funding is crucial to secure an extra set of preparatory matches.
“There will be huge exposure in the next few months. We’re crowd-funding and doing fundraiser events to generate the deficit, so we can commit to games with Germany and Spain.”
Yesterday, the official schedule for Rio 2016 was finally confirmed. It’s hectic schedule with Ireland – like all teams – set to play five group games in seven days with just two rest days thrown in.
It’s to accommodate the extra round of matches introduced for this year’s Olympics with the top four in the group advancing to quarter-finals rather than the top two going straight to semi-finals in other editions.
Ireland start off against Asian champions India on August 6 before facing world number two and European champions, the Netherlands, a day later.
Reigning Olympic champions Germany are third on the agenda on August 9. Game four is a critical one against Canada on August 11 before Pan-Am champions Argentina close out the initial phase of the competition.
The quarter-finals begin on August 14 with semi-finals on August 16 and the final and bronze medal matches on August 18.
Pool A sees reigning World Cup and Hockey World League champions Australia, currently ranked number one in the world, face Great Britain (4 – based on England’s ranking); Belgium (5); New Zealand (8); Spain (11) and hosts Brazil (32).
Speaking about the match schedule, coach Craig Fulton said: “The Olympic schedule is finally released and we are very happy with the times and days our games have been allocated. We will play five pool games in the first seven days so we will be ready for that challenge one game at a time. We have an exciting first game against India in game one”
Ireland’s Pool B fixtures (all times local)
Saturday, August 6: India v Ireland, 11am
Sunday, August 7: Netherlands v Ireland, 6pm
Tuesday, August 9: Germany v Ireland, 12.30pm
Thursday, August 11: Ireland v Canada, 11am
Friday, August 12: Ireland v Argentina, 7.30pm
** To pledge your support for the Irish men’s team and to find out more, click here: https://www.pledgesports.org/projects/obsessed/