02/05/2017

What is it like to be a Steward at Croke Park?

A message from Johnny Holland who has been volunteering in Croke Park for over 8 years.
 
It’s an honour and a privilege is what an old man once told me when I asked him why he has been stewarding in Croke Park for over 20 years.
 
Today, I understand what he means. At first, when I came upon the Stewarding team in 2009, I never envisaged that I still would be here today, giving any given Sunday in Croke Park, but one thing is for sure, I am still very happy coming here and plan to do so for many more years ahead.
The one thing that connects us all is our love of the GAA – each steward is truly unique and different but come each match day to Croke Park, there are no barriers or ignorance – just pure bliss and love of the day that lies ahead of us.
 
At the start of each match day, there is a meal voucher provided, tea/coffee/bottles of water and a free match day programme, at least 1-2 hours before the gates open. This is where you catch up with friends from all over Ireland, counties such as Laois, Galway, Cork, Louth, Tyrone, Meath, Kildare, Waterford, Kerry, Germany, Brazil at one stage and Dublin itself, all coming for the joy of being in Croke Park.
 
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You are assigned your allocated position within the grounds, either on sideline duty or vomitories. Your role is to maintain a safe and secure environment in your given area and to be familiar with the stadium ground regulations, ensuring that any breach of these regulations is brought to a safe conclusion such as;
•    Crowd control – sideline duty and stand vomitories
•    Customer care – usher and assist patrons, disability awareness assistance, direct patrons to designated smoking areas and recycling banks
•    Emergency procedures – e.g. assisting with stadium evacuation
•    Media – assist with photographers and reporters pitch side
•    Match day miscellaneous – dressing rooms, players' tunnel duties, etc.

I have many good friends among the stewards, taking in countless breathtaking matches, especially the recent All–Ireland rivalries between Kilkenny and Tipperary, Dublin dominance, along with spectacular concerts by Take That, BeyoncĂ© and Ed Sheeran, while I am volunteering I never felt like I was working.
 
I may have a luminous jacket with Maor at the back, yet I felt like everyone else, which is enjoying the occasion but ensuring that I fulfill a duty of care to serve and protect the patrons who attend these events.
 
To become a steward, you will need to be trained and accredited by the GAA National Facilities, Health & Safety Committee.
Voluntary Stewards benefits are not paid in monetary terms. However, every event day they are provided with a meal voucher, tea/coffee/bottles of water and a free match day programme. There are also a number of Stewards functions including Stewards drinks receptions and the Annual Stewards Awards Night.

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To become a Croke Park Voluntary Stewards, the following criteria is required:
•    Aged from 18 years old
•    Available at weekends
•    Active and enthusiastic
•    Customer focused
•    An interest in GAA would be beneficial 

In terms of attendance it is important to know that you do not need to make each event as we all have other interests at heart regarding family, events but it is expected that you make at least 60% of all events. The beauty in this is that you have the full events list provided to you at the very beginning of the year and one can plan their availability like I do.

To get involved as a voluntary steward, you can access www.crokepark.ie/stewards or contact Elaine Casey at ecasey@crokepark.ie
We look forward to seeing you at Croke Park, don’t worry, everyone will be there to help you as we are all part of the same team.

Is mise le Meas
Johnny Holland