My name is Frankie and I’m 17 years old and currently attend Dóchas don Óige.
Tell us about yourself
I came here because my older brother and a few of my friends attended, so I heard of it by word of mouth. I am currently doing my Fetac Level 4 at Dóchas don Óige.
What do you like about Dóchas don Óige?
I like the smaller classes which makes it easier to learn than school, plus the staff here are really helpful and understanding, especially Helen and Tommy. This gives me the ability to speak to them, should I have any problems or concerns. They are also very accommodating in terms of my boxing, especially when it comes to getting time off to travel. I even got to do circuit training with the Connacht Rugby team through Dóchas don Óige, which was fun.
Tell us about your boxing career
I started boxing when I was ten years old and after six months I got picked to fight in England. I have won a number of Irish titles throughout the years as well as a silver medal in the European championships. I fight at Bantam weight, so I have to keep below 56 Kilos. Through the boxing I have been able to travel to a lot of places including Russia, Amsterdam, Denmark and Poland. The training is tough and when we train at the Irish camp, we have to follow a tough routine. You have to be up early for training in the morning at ten, then only have time to grab a bit of food before training again at 3.30. You would then have to be back in the hotel for 9.30, ready for bed. The next big step is fighting senior, meaning no headgear. However, I am confident as I have been training with guys a lot older than me for a few years now.
How do you stay motivated?
My father helps to me keep motivated; he is big into it, so I want to show to him what I can do. Seeing the seniors training at the Irish camp also motivate me, as I aspire to be like them. The supporters at my fights really cheers me on, especially when I see a lot of Irish in the crowd with green jumpers on!
Who is your biggest idol?
I love Paddy Barnes as I find him very level headed. People make him out to be a big shot, but he doesn’t act like that. He said that he was like us one day, so why be different. I am also a big fan of Ricky Hatton, we even have the same nickname “The Hitman”. I got it after I dropped a fella with a body shot in the Connacht championship when I was 11. The coach called me it after and it stuck.
What is your biggest dream?
My dream is to make the 2020 Olympics. Hopefully I will make it that far, otherwise I will go pro. However, I can’t dream that far ahead. First I must first win the seniors next year and then I’ll be on the senior team. I have to keep setting my goals, but not too far ahead, I’m not really thinking about the Olympics. Every fight is my next goal. I can’t dream of the Olympics when I can’t even win the fights before. Every training session I like to push myself a bit harder, that way I keep improving.
How has Dóchas don Óige helped you?
I find it a huge help. Not only does it support my boxing career, but I also get my education here. If it wasn’t for Dóchas don Óige, I wouldn’t be in school and wouldn’t get an education, as I dropped out of school after the Junior Certificate. I want to have an option to work if my boxing career doesn’t work out.
What would you say to any potential trainees thinking of coming to Dóchas don Óige?
I would say definitely come. It keeps people off the streets, especially lads who don’t play sports and are stuck at home. I believe that’s where the trouble starts, as people have nothing to do and start to drink out of boredom. Here you have something to do, plus you get an education.
My name is Willie and I’m 22 years old.
Tell us about yourself
I attended Dóchas don Óige after dropping out of school, before the Junior Certificate. I felt school wasn’t for me as I didn’t get along too well with the teachers. I regret it looking back, but I did it anyways.
How did you hear about Dóchas don Óige?
I officially heard of Dóchas don Óige through FÁS. But I had heard of before hand as I had a friend who attended and he was trying to get me to come and join.
How did you find it going back to education?
It was tough going back, but I found it easier in Dóchas don Óige. I found the help there much more beneficial. In school if I asked the teacher a question, he or she wouldn’t even answer me, and that’s what annoyed me. In Dóchas don Óige the teachers are more understanding and explain things in a different way, where as in school the book was thrown in front of me and I was told do that. I even wrote a seven page essay while attending Dóchas don Óige, something I never done before in my life! You also feel happy in there as you can trust the staff. I learnt more in a year than you would in six years of school. Even if you’re having a bad day you will come out feeling better. I built up such a good relationship with the staff and I will still go down when I can to visit. I even brought my young fella down once!
What did you do while you were in Dóchas don Óige ?
While there, I received my FETAC level 3 and 4. I did the two courses within one year, something that normally takes two years to complete. The level 3 and 4 are very similar in terms of modules, subjects including Maths, English, Art, and Woodwork. I found the level 3 very easy and level 4 wasn’t too hard.
What sport and activities did you do while in Dóchas don Óige ?
We played soccer once a week, that’s what made everyone happy in there. If there was any messing in class you weren’t allowed to play, so that’s why everyone just got on with it. We did a lot of activities in there, we went camping, kayaking. The best activity was the weekend away camping- eight or nine of us kayaked out to an island and camped there for the night.
What did you do after leaving Dóchas don Óige?
Following the completion of my FETAC level 3 and 4 I did a security course. Now I currently work as a security guard in various places around Galway.
Do you think your life would have been different if you didn’t go to Dóchas don Óige?
100%, especially as I was drinking then. When I started, Tommy was always onto me to give up the drink. And after I while I did. I still drink but not half as much. It was drinking out of boredom, I had nothing to do, especially growing when growing up. Now I work full time, its different, you feel better about yourself. I also found my girlfriend while I was there. If it wasn’t for Dóchas don Óige I probably wouldn’t have a child today and probably not a job either. I look at things in a way differently now. Before then I didn’t care, now everything revolves around my child. 100% if it wasn’t for Dóchas don Óige I wouldn’t be here today.
What are your hopes for the future?
In security there is a lot of jobs out there. I’m thinking of doing the body guard course. The money is good, but it’s tough work. I would love for the opportunity to meet and protect famous people, like Ed Sheeran! You’d feel like James Bond!
Would you recommend Dóchas don Óige to anyone?
Yes, loads. I have told many people about it, due to the fact that a lot of people from where I am from have left school early. People would feel nervous at first, but you get to enjoy it after a few weeks. It’s good to learn and try new things, it’s not the same thing day in day out. It’s just an all round better learning environment.
Tell us about your background and how you came to be in Dóchas don Óige.
I finished my Leaving Certificate in 2001 and then did a sports and recreation course in Salthill for one year. I didn’t really want to go working for the year and I heard Dóchas don Óige were doing a soccer training course, which is my background, whereas the sports and recreation course was far broader. It was a great opportunity to do the course, and we got paid for learning. The course was tailored for soccer including physical soccer training and health and fitness training. I did it for a year and got on very well.
One of the coaches on the course-John Power- was setting up his own coaching school in Galway and asked those on the course if they wanted to do work experience there. I jumped at the chance to do this, so I did the course Monday to Friday and on Saturday I coached with John. The course lasted a year and the following year I went back and did it again! John Power then approached me, and instead of Power Soccer being on one day a week we set it up in different locations around Galway. We set up a full time soccer programme. During the day we would be in Dóchas and after Dóchas we’d run soccer clinics Monday to Friday in different parts around Galway.
How has Dóchas don Óige helped you?
I got a FAI qualification from Dóchas don Óige and to this day I’m still working with Power Soccer. Without Dóchas don Óige I wouldn’t have that Power Soccer connection, which has opened so many doors for me. I have gone on to get further qualifications in Scotland and Canada with Power Soccer and work full time with them-sometimes up to 60 hours a week. I currently work in Dóchas don Óige two hours a week doing the Health and Fitness module-I teach health and fitness in the class for one hour and then one hour physical activity.
What would you say to anyone thinking of attending Dóchas don Óige?
I really would recommend Dóchas don Óige to anyone. Tommy and Helen are so supportive, fair and give you every opportunity, but at the same time they look out for you and make sure you are doing the work! You can really trust and confide in them, they have a great balance.
My name is Shauna and I’m from Galway.
I have been attending Dóchas don Óige for five months now and I really enjoy it. My sister had been here previous to me, but left over a year ago now. It’s because of her and her advice that I’m here now.
What do you like most about Dóchas don Óige?
It makes you feel good, I leave here every evening feeling better than when I came in. I love the art classes here. I also get the opportunity to do woodwork, a subject I have never done before, and really enjoy it. Last week we even got to go out to Menlo to make a short film, videoing some of the trainees kayaking. I was in charge of sound, while the lads filmed. Afterwards, Tommy had a little stove and we made tea, while Helen cooked sausages. It was really enjoyable. Everyone was together having a great laugh, kind of like one big happy family.
What is a typical day at Dóchas don Óige like?
The days are very relaxed here and we get to have a laugh while doing our work. Everyone gets on well with each other which is a great thing. We get all our work done while we are in here, which means no homework. My favourite days are Wednesday as we do a Health & Fitness module, which includes going out to Westside to play soccer for an hour.
How has Dóchas don Óige helped you with life at home?
If there is a lot going on at home you can talk to anyone in here, especially Helen, she is like Wonder Woman! I also find my mood has changed and now I can cope better at home. One of the best pieces of advice that I got was “you have to pick yourself back up, because no one else will”. You can’t be going around feeling sorry for yourself, you just have to do it. There was times when I wasn’t going to attend or I would stay in bed in the mornings, and I said to myself “what am I doing? I need an education”. The best thing I have ever done was come in here, because I do want an education.
What are your hopes for the future?
I have lots of plans for the future. My interests include music and cooking, so I can see myself going down the route of social care and working with kids. There is a course in Galway Technical Institute which I am interested in, so hopefully I will get that.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining Dóchas don Óige?
There are many people who are having issues or trouble at home, or those who find it difficult at school and I feel they should attend Dóchas don Óige. The staff here, especially Helen and Tommy, are saints, and would go out of their way to help you in any way possible. This help and support keeps people off the streets by offering them guidance. So I would advise any young person who is having problems but wants an education to come here. I was in another training centre and had to leave, but after two days of just being here I felt so comfortable.
Dochas don Óige Charity No. 11909, CRO no. 229589