By Sinead Kennedy and Chantal Muldoon

The message from the club comes in, ‘training tomorrow night at 6.30, don’t forget to bring your registration money and your own water’. No different than the thousands of other texts about training over the years right? Wrong. The journey to tomorrow night’s training involves an hour long subway journey at rush hour across Beijing. The venue? The hockey pitches at the Olympic sports centre. A far cry from the church pitch of UCD! So off we go, head to toe in O Neill’s gear. The stares on the subway even more numerous than usual because of the white legs and stripy GAA socks. You’ve heard it so many times before, but the GAA really is a family. Here we are, half way across the world, kicking an O Neill’s size 4 just like we have done so many times back home. It’s a much needed break from the absolute mayhem of the Beijing lifestyle.

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Only a few short weeks after we arrived, we took part in the Asian games in Malaysia with the Beijing GAA team. This was hands down the best weekend of our Erasmus so far. Think 65 teams from 18 countries booked into a 5 star hotel in Kuala Lumpur for 3 days of competitive 7-a-side football in 30 degree heat. And of course there is all the usual craic and banter the GAA is synonymous for. There was a huge variation in the standard of football on show, with the better teams such as Singapore managing to win out every cup on offer, and the weaker, or more ‘sociable’ teams not showing up for a single morning match. As for our little club in Beijing, we were delighted with runners up in the intermediate shield competition.

Believe it or not, the connection between UCD GAA and Beijing GAA is thriving. The Beijing club just finished an 8 week Gaelic football training course with 30 students at the Beijing Dublin International College (BDIC) which is linked with UCD. They really are doing their utmost to promote our native game 8, 500km from where it all began. Take a look at the Beijing Gaa facebook page for more info.

 

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