European Healthy Stadia Award

Croke Park was formally inducted into the European Healthy Stadia network at the All-Ireland Football Semi-Finals on Saturday, August 11, in recognition of the stadium’s and the GAA’s contributions to the public health agenda.

Matthew Philpott, Executive Director of the European Healthy Stadia Network, presented the plaque to Peter McKenna, Croke Park Stadium Director and Aoife O'Brien, GAA National Healthy Club Coordinator at half-time in the Galway v Dublin Senior Football fixture.

This year, Croke Park partnered with the HSE’s Ask About Alcohol Campaign to encourage fans to “Drink Less and Gain More – On and Off the Pitch”.

For the first time, fans attending the All-Ireland Semi-Final were able to enjoy an alcohol-free family fun zone at the Cusack Stand both before the games and at breaks in play.

When it comes to reducing alcohol harm for players and fans, the GAA is already leading the way with their long-standing ASAP Programme – a collaboration between the GAA and the HSE designed to reduce the harm caused by the misuse of alcohol and other substances. Since 2014, there has been no sponsorship of any GAA competition by an alcohol company, and no senior inter-county team has an alcohol sponsor. At Croke Park specifically, the consumption of alcohol is highly regulated and not permitted inside the bowl (the seating area of the stadium) at GAA matches.

On Match day, HSE and GAA volunteers were on hand to engage with fans in the Family Fun Zone. Young supporters were entertained with face-painting, target games, balloon modelling, the GAA Trophy Parade with the Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy Cups, and much more.

Matthew Philpott stated that: “It’s an absolute honour to welcome such an iconic and progressive stadium such as Croke Park into the European Healthy Stadia Network, and to present the GAA with an award plaque at the All Ireland Semi-Final. Croke Park has some excellent policies and practices promoting health, such as the availability of healthier catering options, employee physical activity recreational opportunities and the latest campaign on responsible alcohol consumption, following the success of the smoke free pilot and emotional wellbeing campaign in previous years.”

Each year since 2014, the GAA has nominated one of its All-Ireland Semi-Finals to promote a significant health message. This year’s “Drink Less, Gain More” initiative follows the success of the “Little Things can improve your game” mental health initiative in 2016, and last year’s #HurlTheHabit quit smoking campaign.