Irish Hockey goalkeeper David Fitzgerald met with PledgeSports CEO & Founder Richard Pearson to discuss the team’s hugely successful crowdfunding campaign and how important a role the Irish hockey community and wider public played in turning the team’s Olympic hopes into reality.
RP: We’re here with David Fitzgerald from the Irish Hockey team, who were the first Irish team in 70 years to make the Olympics this year, a massive success.
Did you know you ran the most successful team crowdfunding campaign in the world for Rio 2016?
DF: No, I had absolutely no idea. To be honest with you it was quite a daunting task when we saw what we had to raise but the support we’ve had from the public, it’s been phenomenal. It’s great to know that your country and the people are behind you like that.
RP: One thing that fascinated us is just how passionate the supporters were. We’ve done hundreds of campaigns in 28 countries now, but this is probably the most passionate one we saw from a fan point of view. The hockey fans and clubs in Ireland really got behind you.
DF: Honestly, I had no idea until you said it was the most successful of any country. It stands to the public of Ireland as well, it was amazing. We had so many hockey people backing us but obviously with the amount we needed there were other people in other areas of business that got behind us and were willing to help a team from Ireland get to the Olympics.
RP: One question I had is, how’s your back?!
DF: My back?! (laughs)
RP: There are a lot of people unfamiliar with hockey who were watching you guys play and saying “That must be very hard on the back?!”.
DF: Well, see, I’m a goalkeeper so I need to stand up the whole time. It’s a little bit easier for me!
RP: For the other guys?
DF: I suppose you adapt and get used to it. I think previously there wasn’t the same amount of gym work and strength & conditioning work so after people’s careers have finished there were injuries, the back being a big one. But everything is so focused rehab now, ensuring you’re strong. Strong in your core, strong in your back, and ensuring we don’t pick up the same injuries as possibly you did 15 years ago.
RP: What’s the plan after Rio?
DF: I injured my shoulder going into the Olympics. It was an unfortunate one, I’d never had an injury before and I dislocated my shoulder. We got into the games and now it’s trying to get the injuries sorted. I’ll probably get surgery on it and try get back on the pitch as quick as I can.
RP: Finally, just a little message for all the fans out there that gave you so much support?
DF: Honestly, it wasn’t possible without the fans, it wasn’t possible without the support and that’s the biggest thing. A lot of people would thank people for helping them along the way. This wasn’t help. We were in dire need and our country came behind us. A massive thank you.