Young footballers, hurlers and camogs from GAA clubs across Derry City will have the chance to make the trip of a lifetime to China in November thanks to a very special young Gael who tragically lost her life last year.
Lisa Orsi was only 22 when she died after suffering extreme altitude sickness following a trek up a volcano in Indonesia. At the time, she had been working as a physiotherapist in Singapore and her ambition was to go on to study medicine.
Sadly, those dreams never came to pass for a “remarkable” young lady whose enthusiasm, positive attitude and love of life and travel touched everyone she came into contact with. So much so, in fact, that the ‘Live Life Lisa Orsi Foundation’ was created to celebrate Lisa’s life.
The Foundation was officially launched in An Culturlann on Wednesday with the local GAA community turning out in force to show its support for the Orsi family.
“Lisa loved life and lived it to the full,” said Foundation chairman, Mark O’Doherty, from Doire Trasna GAC.
“This project recognises her amazing enthusiasm for life, her love of Gaelic games and unquenchable thirst for travel and adventure.
Lisa was witty and inspiring. She was adventurous and loved to travel – she had a massive hunger to see new places, to do new things and to experience other culturesDennis Orsi
“The Foundation wants to encourage a positive attitude to sports participation and health and wellbeing among young people, as well as promoting an increased awareness of organ donation and the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.”
Lisa played locally with Ardmore Ladies and, while in Singapore, played with Singapore Lions GAA. She was a member of the Lions’ team that lifted the Ladies’ Gaelic Football Cup at the 2014 Asian Gaelic Games in Kuala Lumpur. Such is the esteem in which she was held there, the Asian Gaelic Games Ladies’ Senior Cup for football was renamed in her honour.
Travel was a passion for Lisa and, to celebrate that, the Foundation is planning to take up to 40 young people from clubs across the city to participate in the 2016 Asian Gaelic Games which are due to be held in Shanghai at the start of November.
The concept originated from Lisa’s father, Dennis, who travelled to Shanghai last October to present the inaugural ‘Lisa Orsi Cup’ to the 2015 winning team and felt it would be a wonderful tribute to Lisa if he could get other young people to participate in the Asian Gaelic Games and share some of the same experiences that Lisa had enjoyed.
“Lisa was witty and inspiring,” says Dennis. “She was adventurous and loved to travel – she had a massive hunger to see new places, to do new things and to experience other cultures. She had a strong social conscience and always wanted to do the right thing. We are all immensely proud of Lisa and everything that she achieved.”
When Lisa died, her organs were donated to give people in need of a transplant a new lease of life, which is her wonderful lasting legacy and guest speaker at the launch in An Culturlann on Wednesday evening, Joe Brolly, said he felt privileged to be able to attend.
“When someone as beautiful, loving and adventurous as Lisa dies young, we all feel it,” said the former Derry GAA star who is a long-standing campaigner for organ donation charity ‘Opt for Life’.
Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Joe continued: “When she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars and she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”
One of the many young players who attended the launch was 17-years old Lea Casey, from Steelstown Brian Ogs Ladies’, who is also a member of the County Derry team. Lea is a qualified coach, as well as the first female and youngest referee in County Derry.
“I think this Foundation is a great way to encourage young people to get more involved in their clubs and then, hopefully, they will stay at it for many years to come and encourage others to join their club,” explained Lea.
As a pilot project, the Foundation is proposing to take young people from 10 local GAA clubs in the North West - Ardmore, Na Magha, Doire Trasna, Steelstown, Doire Colmcille, Slaughtmanus, Sean Dolan’s, Craigbane, Claudy and Faughanvale - to the 2016 Asian Gaelic Games in Shanghai in November.
The provisional cost of the trip will be £1,500 per participant. Participants will be asked to contribute £500 towards the cost of the trip themselves; £500 will be raised through fundraising, with the support of the local clubs, with the remaining £500 sourced from sponsorship.
Anyone interested in being part of this year’s trip should complete an Expression of Interest form (available on the LiveLifeLisaOrsi Facebook page or from club secretaries) and return the form to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on Friday, July 15th, 2016.