2022 was the year that things started to return to normal for the world as we saw the end of COVID-19 lockdowns and the opening up of borders. This had a significant impact on both our playing season and on numbers involved in our various teams during the year.
The absolute highlight of the season has, of course, been the success of our women's intermediate football team in being crowned champions of Australasia in October. For the first time ever, Wellington/Hutt Valley GFHA was represented in the winners' circle at the state games and it was fitting that our women's team was the one to do so. Winning the games is a great source of pride for the club and the many messages of support that the team and club received during and after the games show how much the win means to members past and present.
To go back to the beginning of 2022, we started the year in an uncertain note with lockdowns across part of the country which meant that the annual national championships couldn't be held in Hamilton in March. We look forward to making the trip back up there in 2023 for this season's finals.
The first major tournament of the year was the Wellington Sevens held over Labour weekend at Awakairangi Park in Upper Hutt. In what was an exceptional weekend of games, and fine weather, we welcomed teams from across New Zealand to participate in the now annual competition. We also welcomed our new Irish Ambassador Jane Connolly and look forward to working closely with the Embassy in the coming season.
The social Gaelic games competitions have continued to be the backbone of our season locally and we welcomed many new and returning players again this year. Unfortunately, we have had to reduce the number of pitches in play due to safety considerations. The standard of play has continued to improve week on week for all our players and we look forward to wrapping up the pre-Christmas season on finals day on Saturday 10 December.
We wouldn’t have the club we do without the support of our sponsors. Whistling Sisters/The Featherston have continued as our main socials sponsors and it’s a credit to them that they have given great support even though the hospitality sector has been under pressure this year. A special thanks also to the Irish Trust in Wellington who generously sponsored the marquees for the sevens weekend in October.
Thanks also to all involved in the running of the club in 2022. The coaches have continued to promote our games to players of all skill levels and abilities, whether it's kids Gaelic games, right up to the masters age group. Your dedication to the cause is very much appreciated.
The club committee have been exceptional again this year and we are very lucky to have so many dedicated individuals who give so freely of their time and expertise in truly making this the coolest little club in the world. Of course, our club wouldn’t be a club without our members who take part in our games and make all our players feel welcome each and every week. Thank you to every one of you who have played your part in 2022. The club is a home away from home for many and, as we head into the Christmas period, our club provides a family environment for those missing theirs back home.
It would be remiss of me not to mention those people who we have lost in 2022. We mourned the passing of former club stalwart and great friend of the club, Eoinie Farrell, who lost his battle with cancer this year. Eoinie was a huge part of the club in his time in NZ (2011-14) and the events to mark his memory were very well attended. Our thoughts are with Eoinie's wife Eimear and both their families.
I'll wrap up by extending my own and the committee’s best wishes to you all for a very happy Christmas and a happy and healthy 2023.
Nollaig Shona Daoibh
Wellington/Hutt Valley GFHA