Everyone's heard of football, but you might not be familiar with Irish version of the game. Kids from all over North America are taking over Randall's Island this weekend to compete in three different Gaelic sports. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
In most of Europe, "football" is what Americans call soccer. But in Ireland, Gaelic or Irish football is something completely different.
“So Irish football is like a combination of rugby, soccer and basketball. As you said, the object of the game is to score it in the goal for three or score it over the bar for one point. You can kick the ball or you can hand pass the ball and you can travel down the field with the ball,” said Simon Gillespie of the Continental Youth Championships.
“I think people should just know about the game is that it's really not like anything else you've played in your entire life,” said a player.
This weekend is the largest gathering of youth Gaelic sports players outside of Ireland. Randall's Island is hosting more than 2,000 kids ages 6 to 18 taking part in the Continental Youth Championships. The tournament has grown from 40 matches just 10 years ago to now more than 230 and it draws teams from all over North America.
“The popularity has really shot through the roof, no one expected it to ever get this big. And by these kids playing this game that's been around for centuries in Ireland, it keeps them in touch with everything at home,” said Greg Degl of Saint Brigid’s LGFCC.
“It's really fun,” said one young player.
And it's not just Irish football, they'll also be playing hurling and camogie, two other traditional Irish sports.
“This is, hurling and camogie and you have to hit the ball and pass it and then hit it over the bar and the goals,” said a young player.
The games really are passed down from generation to generation.
“Mostly it’s the parents getting their own kids involved because we played when we were young growing up in Ireland,” said Brian Rogers, who brought his team to New York from San Francisco.
“Our grandpa played in Ireland, our dad played when he came to New York and then he just got all of us involved,” said a player.
But don't be fooled, these are physical and intense battles. Everyone wants to win.
“It's just the fast moving pace and the way you have to have the skills and ability to play it all,” said another player.
The tournament runs all weekend long. The camogie and hurling champs will be decided on Saturday, the Irish football winners will be decided Sunday.