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Thursday 21 June 2018

Dean: 'At the end of the day, football is a hobby - it's a pastime'

Dublin manager Jim Gavin with Jack McCaffrey, Stephen Cluxton, Cormac Costello, Michael Fitzsimons and Brian Fenton and members of staff on the Hamilton Ward, Beaumont Hospital on their visit to staff and patients of the hospital on Christmas Day last year
Dublin manager Jim Gavin with Jack McCaffrey, Stephen Cluxton, Cormac Costello, Michael Fitzsimons and Brian Fenton and members of staff on the Hamilton Ward, Beaumont Hospital on their visit to staff and patients of the hospital on Christmas Day last year

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Darragh Macauley gave an interview where he spoke of a recent trip to the slums of Nairobi in his role as an ambassador for Concern.

The 2013 Footballer of the Year went on express his belief that for all their various humanitarian endeavours, the Dublin squad had the potential to use their individual and collective profiles to help others to an even greater extent.

Dean Rock agrees.

"You notice it on a day to day basis," he says. "You meet people on the streets or you meet a group of kids who recognise you.

"So you're aware of the influence you can have on people, especially.

"When I was growing up," he recalls, "Dublin footballers back then would have had an influence on me.

"I would have watched everything they did, both on the pitch and off it. I would have been interested in what they did off it too," adds the Ballymun Kickhams man.

Influence

"So you have a massive role to play, both in your football for the team and for Dublin GAA and then that goes a little bit deeper in terms of your profession or what influence you can have on people."

Rock has been working in Stewarts Care, a voluntary organisation providing community-based services to people with an intellectual disability, since 2015.

"It was something I fell into," he says now.

His undergraduate studies in Sports Science and Health in DCU brought him to Stewarts as part of an Adaptive Physical Activity module.

Therein, Rock managed to secure a work placement for six months where he coached swimming and athletics to people with disabilities.

When an opening to cover maternity leave arose at the end of 2015, he accepted the offer and has been working in their headquarters in Palmerstown ever since. Gradually, his role has become centred around fundraising for the organisation and he relays that there is a deep job satisfaction in how his profession positively affects other people.

"That's obviously a big motivator for me," Rock outlines.

"Football can obviously give you some sort of platform to be successful in your day-to-day life and work.

"I'm just hoping to use that in a positive manner, to help people in the care of Stewarts.

"I'm not doing that in a fundraising capacity. We're quite a low scale charity.

"We haven't really done much in the past. So for me, my role is about increasing the awareness of the organisation."

It has been a habit with this Dublin team in the past decade.

When Pat Gilroy took over as manager in 2008, he organised a sleep-out to collect money for the city's homeless.

Jim Gavin and his players meanwhile, have taken Sam Maguire on a tour of Dublin's hospitals on Christmas Day in each year they have won the All-Ireland.

"I suppose it's just the environment that we're in," Rock says about the squad's capacity to stayed earthed despite their sprawling achievements.

Succeed

"No-one ever gets carried away with themselves.

"Everyone is quite concentrated in terms of what they do off the field and their profession - and they're very driven to succeed in that area. And then I suppose we really enjoy our football as a group," states Rock.

"At the end of the day, football is a hobby. It's a pastime.

"As seriously as we take sport, your work and your family - they're most important things.

"So I think having that sort of value system helps keep things in perspective and probably helps us stay humble as a group.

"It's taken us this far," Rock points out.

"You hear business people talking about culture and values.

"Or you hear the New Zealand rugby team talk about culture and values and having their own unique identity and certain traits.

"But humility is obvious one that we would pride ourselves on. It's one of those things.

"It's kind of a key part of what the group is about now.

"And," he concludes, "it's great to have."

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