It was a case of Old School versus La Nouvelle Vague. One a classic tale of returning to those happy days of sunshine, alcohol and devilment, the other a rejection of the classics in favour of social and radical experimentation. Brussels was the place. The bank holiday weekend was the time. Only one question remains…which side are you on?
“Mikey Keane is here, and he brought a bottle of tequila!” The reactions to this shouted statement were like the results of a litmus test on the differences between Belgium GAA of 2008-09 and Belgium GAA 2010. The “older” generation cheered and scrambled for the shot glasses that Mr. Keane removed from his pocket. The “younger” generation looked bemused, and returned to singing Lady Gaga songs and discussing the similarities between the Donovan twins.
This division in the ranks is not reflected on the pitch, whether at training or at tournaments. It should not be used as an indication of the age gaps that may or may not exist within the club. This study merely aims to acknowledge the maturity of Belgium GAA, in its ability to change and adapt to a growing population, while appreciating the true strengths and qualities of the Old School.
A long weekend in Brussels. Sunshine. Beers. Parc 50e. BBQs. Place Lux. In the right hands, an extended session leaving those lucky enough to experience it glowing with satisfaction (and sunburn) and yearning for the long summer evenings to go on forever. On this particular weekend, the right hands appeared to be those of Dave Barrett.
They came to observe him in his natural habitat, and they were not disappointed. Whether in his pink shirt in Place Lux, or in his GAA gear in Parc 50e, or in his white shorts and matching hotel slippers at Anay’s BBQ, he commanded attention. His audience was captive, ensnared by the heat emanating from the sun and the fact that he sat atop a growing pile of Jupiler cans.
One of the points that he extolled throughout the weekend was the importance of the 2nd generation of Belgium GAA, those had become involved before the stream of successes that marked the 2008 and 2009 seasons. The 1st generation set the ball rolling, so to speak, by planting the GAA in Brussels and giving it the encouragement to grow. There is no doubt but the community has benefited from the onslaught of “young wans and fellas”, just off the boat and brimming with enthusiasm and social charisma. They are bringing the club to new heights and ensuring its continued development.
But the 2nd generation, the Old School, is the key to all this evolution. It is the gardener that nurtures, the teacher that guides, the experienced (slightly) older sibling that leads by example. The members of the Old School know who they are. They know that for sustainable growth to continue, these divisions should not be seen as cracks in Belgium GAA, but as grafts that will bring us closer and closer to the sun.