After last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic, the Benelux Gaelic Football Cup will be held in Brussels on Sunday with the Irish ambassador to Belgium presenting the prize to the champions.
Ireland’s national sport, Gaelic football has grown in popularity across the continent with organisations overseeing competitions in France, Spain, and the Netherlands, to name a few. Sunday’s competition will gather teams in the Benelux region. Both men and women’s teams will be playing in both junior (ages 5-16) and senior categories.
Speaking to The Brussels Times, committee member for Belgium’s Gaelic football association Darren Ennis said: “It’s such an inclusive game and we actually have a lot of girls playing at the junior level as well. We are a very social organisation and have players of all nationalities enjoying the sport – it’s not just for the Irish!”
The event takes place from midday to 7 PM at the Adeps sports centre in Auderghem. Spectators are welcome and there will be a bar open for drinks.
To those unfamiliar with the sport, Gaelic football is an Irish game that resembles an enthralling combination of football and rugby, with a goal akin to that in football beneath posts similar to those on a rugby pitch. There are 15 players on each side and, unsurprisingly, the objective of the game is to score more points than the opponent during the two 30 minute halves. A goal is worth three points whilst kicking or punching the spherical ball over the crossbar and between the posts is worth one point.
Yet not to simplify it as a basic hybrid of two familiar sports, Gaelic football is a unique and riveting spectacle with a multitude of peculiar rules that make it immensely entertaining. It really has to be seen to be properly appreciated.
Although little known outside its country of origin, the sport is hugely popular in Ireland and attracts large crowds – particularly to the top division games that garner a similar interest to pro-level football in other countries. However, unlike conventional football where professional players can earn multi-million euro salaries, Gaelic football is an entirely amateur sport. This means that the elite level players, sporting superstars in Ireland, are not paid for their performances. As a result, many work normal jobs alongside their sporting endeavours.