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So where has this all come from? Originally back when the GAA launched their new brand in 2008 they also created templates as to how best to present the new branding at Club and County level digitally.
Our parent business, LD2, is a brand consultancy and has been involved with the GAA for nearly three decades at club, county, provincial and national level – they know branding and they know the GAA.
The GAA is one of the best-known brands in Ireland so from an LD2 and then a Club & County perspective, how the GAA brand is reflected across all its stakeholders has always been important to us, it has almost become our personal crusade.
Back in 2008 our own County, Tyrone, had a Servasport website. Servasport did not want to pursue the web design side of their business and Tyrone were struggling with the lack of control. This led to ourselves being tasked with taking it on, that was our introduction to the GAA’s fixtures and results system.
Our initial goal was to make our home County website a ‘best in class website’ in terms of adopting the GAA brand guidelines, integrating the Servasport fixtures and results system and allowing for it to be easily updated by the PRO. This was the start of Club & County.
The GAA is probably the best-known brand in Ireland, it has an extensive network with over 2000 clubs and also 100+ clubs overseas. Croke Park is the third biggest stadium in Europe which is an unbelievable achievement for an amateur organisation.
The fact that it is an amateur organisation also provides many challenges. There are some paid officials at County, National and Provincial levels but the bulk of membership is at club level and consists purely of volunteers.
It is a unique and special network, with headquarters at Croke Park in Dublin with responsibility for the overall management of the Association. There are also four Provincial Councils, each with their own County structure. Within each County there is a network of almost 2000 clubs. The club is the lifeblood of the organisation and they face the ongoing challenges of membership, health and wellness, attracting volunteers, attracting sponsorship and much more.
Through programmes like the Club/County Leadership & Development Programme work is ongoing in terms of giving Club and County officers the skills necessary to keep clubs going in terms of governance, administration, finance and communication. The responsibility levels for volunteers and club/county officers is growing and in a lot of cases it can be difficult to fill these roles.
Over our decades of involvement, we have always seen a real need and desire for either Clubs, Counties or Provinces to have a strong digital presence. At County and Club level this is managed by volunteers and quite often a broad variance in technical ability and experience.
The GAA have tried at different times over the past number of years to provide a digital solution to clubs through initially a Google and then a Microsoft solution but because of the limitations of what these companies offered, neither option evolved to what today’s GAA Units need from an online presence. That’s why, working with the GAA centrally and taking on board the difficulties experienced, we have been able to build a truly great website for the changing needs of the Association’s Provinces, Counties and Clubs.
From our experience in working with the GAA at all levels in a brand, marketing and digital capacity we could see the benefits of a solution that could allow all the units to ‘get connected’ under one platform.
There is a very high demand at club and county level for key features such as latest news, fixtures and results, online membership, e-commerce, donations, etc. If a system provided all this level of functionality it would be a vital and essential tool to the entire club network. In turn, the GAA at national, provincial and county level would connect directly to their entire membership.
The GAA then at all levels can ‘get connected’. National, Provinces, Counties and Clubs.
As a team we feel strongly that Club & County can make a fundamental change to how the GAA operates and utilise one of the best community networks in the world. It goes far beyond a digital project, it aims to help the survival of many clubs.
Strong, healthy clubs result in a healthy GAA. We aim to play our part.
The long term goal is to produce a system that is sustainable, connects the organisation at all levels, allowing it to market and communicate with its membership effectively.