Bernard Foy - bridging the sporting divide

FROM TOP SOCCER REFEREE TO CLUB CAPTAIN AT BALLYBOFEY & STRANORLAR GOLF CLUB

Bernard Foy - bridging the sporting divide

The Captains’ Drive-in last week at Ballybofey and Stranorlar Golf Club heralded a new chapter in the sporting life of Bernard Foy.

The new Club Captain played Gaelic football and soccer growing up in Ballybofey, and was a top soccer referee both locally and nationally.

And he was also a big wig in the FAI and served on numerous high powered committees at the top of Irish soccer.

Bernard was on the executive of the FAI Referees’ board for 21 years, 15 as Vice-President and two terms as President.

And he also served for many years on the FAI Council, the governing body of soccer in Ireland.

Bernard is a born and bred Ballybofey man and has lived all his life in his hometown which he boasts is called after the Foy family name.

“The Foys, back in the 1700s, were cattle drovers and that is how the town got it’s name,” says Berard.

“Baile Bó Féich, the town of Foy’s cows, is the direct translation.

“It is a real privilege and honour for me to captain such a great golf club as Ballybofey and Stranorlar,” insisted Bernard.

“It is particularly pleasing when that honour is bestowed on you by my own people and I’m really looking forward to being captain for the next 12 months.”

Bernard has been a member of the club for the past 25 years and has been the club’s very efficient Public Relations Officer for the most of the last decade.

“This is a special year for Ballybofey & Stranorlar Golf Club. It is the 60th anniversary of the club and I feel especially privileged and honoured to be captain in such an important year.

"I hope to mark the 60th with a major golf classic and to honour all those members who down the years worked so hard to give us the fabulous facilities we have today

“We have a brilliant golf course, one of the finest in the country, and our clubhouse is top class and one of the best in Donegal.

“And that is down to a lot of hard work and commitment of a lot of people over the last 60 years and it is important that we remember all those people this year and always.”

Bernard is a member of the club since 1991 having graduated from playing pitch and putt with his brothers, Desmond and Eamon.

“You could say I got bitten by the golf bug playing pitch and putt,” he said.

“My brothers Eamon and Desmond and myself started out playing pitch and putt.

“We used to play on the course up on the Donegal Town Road. It was owned by Enda McMenamin but is no longer there. In fact my house is built on what used to be the seventh green.

“We really enjoyed it so much that we decided to give golf a go and so we joined the golf club and have been members ever since.

“And I have enjoyed every minute of it and it has brought me endless hours of pleasure and enjoyment down the years.

“I became PRO ten years ago but last year was my first year on the council when I became vice-captain to Sean Devenney.

“Under the club constitution the PRO was not a member of the council though that is about to change this year.

“The new communications officer, as the new PRO is being called, will, due to a change in the constitution, be on the council.”

Bernard’s role as PRO was about communicating with the media, mostly the local media, and reporting on the club’s weekly news and results.

It was about portraying the club in a positive light. And Bernard feels his ten years in the Public Relations role has prepared him well for the captaincy.

“I see the role of the captain as being the public face of the club. It is the captain’s job to project a good image and I hope to do that at every opportunity. A steady pair of hands on the teller as it were.

“The term is only for one year so you are not going to make sweeping changes but I would like to run a number of fundraising classics in the course of the year.

“These would be in addition to the 60th anniversary classic that I plan running.

“Like most golf clubs Ballybofey and Stranorlar is struggling after going through a number of tough years.

“Golf clubs were particularly badly hit during the recession. But now that we have come through the recession and survived and the economy is picking up again, we have to capitalise on this.”

An increase in membership and enticing many of those members that have lapsed in recent years is another goal for 2017 for the new captain.

“We have 500 members at present and we are always open for new members and a group I would especially like to see returning to the club are former members whose membership might have lapsed for one reason or another over the last few years.

“We currently have a very good deal for new members so I would like to see the membership increase significantly in 2017.”

Bernard, accompanied by vice-captain Gerry Driver, lady captain Kaye Stewart and vice lady captain Josephine Stewart held his drive-in last week.

He is holding his first council meeting tonight (Thursday) and from then on it will be down to business straight away for the new captain.

“One of my first duties will be to meet with the club’s many generous sponsors to thank them for their support over the past 12 months.

“And also to find out if they are going to continue their sponsorship for the next 12 months.”

And no doubt his many years of experience among the movers and shakers in the top echelons of Irish soccer will stand to him in this duty as it will in his many other roles as the captain of Ballybofey & Stranorlar.