Last Thursday proved to be a schoolday with a difference for the pupils at Scoil Mhuire, Bornacoola when they were visited by Irish 400m sprinter Brian Gregan for some training sessions and a question and answer session.
Bornacoola were one of 10 schools and the only one from Ireland to win the prize, which also includes sports equipment valued at €2,275.
I’m down in Scoil Mhuire in Leitrim with our @MullerUKandI on pack promotion winners. Really excited to meet the kids and we have a great day of activities lined up. #Mullerathletics #Mullerlicious pic.twitter.com/dLYKZyS1Q8— Brian Gregan (@BrianGregan89) November 29, 2018
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer about his visit to Bornacoola and explaining his involvement with the competition Brian said, “It's great to come to Scoil Mhuire as part of Muller onpack promotion.
“I'm a brand ambassador for Muller and Muller ran a competition during the summer that when you buy yoghurts, in that pack you have a chance to win equipment for a school and the school here in Bornacoola came away with the top prize.
“It's great to see a school like this, a small rural school where every little bit helps, it's great to see them get something out of that.”
Brian added, “Muller are great for promoting athletics. You have myself, a 400m sprinter coming down to meet the students and a couple of them are coming up to me saying they want to run later on. It's just trying to inspire them. I had a 30 minute talk with them and there was loads of questions and they were getting really into who I am and what the sport is like and hopefully that will motivate a couple of them to get involved in the sport down the line.”
Talking about how the day could leave a lasting legacy Brian said, “It's about getting them involved not just in athletics but in any kind of sport. It is so important for their health and wellbeing and to integrate them socially with each other. Athletics is really inclusive, there is so many events in the one sport.
“You hope that in the months or years down the line that the kids will look back on this and say that was a great day and maybe inspire them. Now they have more equipment that they can actually use and do more games and activities that will make them better athletes or get fitter. Who knows, we could have our next star coming out of this school, stranger things have happened and you have to start somewhere.”
The fact that there was an Irish winner among all the schools who triumphed was particularly pleasing for Brian who commented, “This has been a great day, a great promotion and it is great to see an Irish school win it. All the other schools were in the UK.”
Speaking briefly about his own progress on the track the Dubliner remarked, “I've been injured for a while so I'm trying to recover fully from that and get ready for the World Championships and then for Tokyo in 2020.
School principal Declan Bohan was equally enthusiastic about the day and the win saying, The kids have had a great day and there has been brilliant excitement.
“Even to listen to Brian this morning, he told them his story and there was lots of questions. To get the interaction from somebody from a different sport from what we would generally be used to around here, because athletics is not the biggest participant sport in this area, but maybe this will inspire more people to become involved in athletics.”
Declan feels that winning the prize will help the students become more involved in athletics saying, “There is so much variety attached to athletics. You have field sports and you have different grades of running.
“Not everybody can be a speed merchant and not everybody can run long races. We were delighted with Leitrim Sports Partnership's participation on the day because over the last few years they have given us up to six weeks coaching in the later part of the school year and we go to their 5k fun run in Lough Rinn towards the end of June. We endeavour to introduce them to as many sports as possible.”
It's remarkable that a relatively small school in terms of all the schools that would be in the catchment area of this. We have 105 pupils at the moment and would be considered a rural school, which we are. Among all those entries we were the only one in Ireland that were pulled out and I know Muller were delighted with that because it spread it out across their franchise area.
Prize winner Trish Hackett expressed her shock at receiving a phone call to say that she had won when she recalled, “It was last June or July when I entered and then I forgot all about it. Then I got an email saying 'congratulations you have won'. I picked up the phone and I rang the phone number at the bottom of the email and they confirmed it was right.
“It's a fantastic prize and it is brilliant for the school. A small school in rural Ireland that wouldn't have huge funds for equipment, this is a huge boost for them.
“It's great that they had somebody like Brian who is such a high profile athlete who could come down. He's been with them all day and they have had great fun. There has been nothing but laughing and messing!”