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A Legend on Tour, A Legend at Home

When you talk about Donegal and its sporting greats the name Packie Bonner is generally on the tip of most tongues. Not content with being a football legend Packie recently took it upon himself to become a golfing ‘legend’. We sat down with Packie just before Christmas to talk all things football, golf, diaspora and a special charity very close to Packie’s heart.

Packie, I think it’s fair to say the people of Donegal and Ireland consider you to be a legend when it comes to football. How do you feel about representing Donegal as an ambassador and how much do you enjoy giving back to where you came from?

Representing Donegal across the World has always been an absolute privilege for me and to this day I continue to help promote Donegal as best I can within my networks in Scotland and at many different events such as the London Irish Vintage Club Day in September. I get home whenever works allows me to and its fantastic to meet so many people out and about in Donegal who all share that pride of place. Spreading the word and the success stories of our Diaspora is so important.

Packie was successful in winning the Legends Tour Celebrity Series golf event in Rosapenna in July 2022 which culminated in further success at the Legends Tour Celebrity Series Finals event in the Seychelles before Christmas. Packie beat a host of other celebrities like Former F1 Champion Damon Hill and Italian Soccer royalty in Gianfranco Zola.

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2022 and the Legends Tour Celebrity Series was a massive success point for you in 2022, golf obviously plays an important part of your life just now but there’s more to it than that, tell us more:

First of all I was delighted to take part in the Legends Tour Celebrity Series for 2022 and I never could have envisaged picking up such a memorable victory in the Seychelles!! I was lucky enough to pick up the top prize of £25,000 which will go to the Amyloidosis Research Fund based at the Royal Free London Hospital. I am very happy to be giving back to a charity so close to me personally. Amyloidosis is a rare illness, it is a build-up of protein that can affect people’s organs and my dad died from it when he was just 61. There are different strains throughout the world, however there is a genetic strain that runs through Donegal and into Scotland. So at the end of the day, it is a very important charity and the research they do is getting closer to, at the very least, provide medication that would slow down the onset, if it is diagnosed early enough or even find a cure in the future.

It wasn’t all plain sailing in the Seychelles though Packie?

Not at all, my own golf clubs didn’t make it to the Seychelles on the flight out from Scotland. I had to rent a set of clubs and had two days to practice before the competition kicked off. It wasn’t ideal by any stretch but playing alongside the likes of golf professionals Phillip Archer and Jarmo Sandelin makes life so much easier, these guys really help you relax and it brings out your best golf.

You mentioned networks in Scotland for the Diaspora, can you tell us about anything brewing in that area?

Pre-covid a lot of good work was done with putting together a dedicated working who put down solid foundations to bring the Diaspora network closer together within Scotland. As we all know Covid destroyed many a plan across all sectors but we’ve started the soundings amongst key contacts to see if we can get things moving again as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.

Day-to-Day life for Packie Bonner in 2023, what does that look like at the moment? Give our readers a snapshot of a week in the life of Packie:

Before the Covid pandemic most of my time was spent traveling around Europe and Scotland with my involvement in UEFA’s coach education programme and with my work with BBC as a co-commentator. Covid stopped travel in its tracks, and we all had to adapt, and the online meeting craze was born. Now post-Covid I would say we all have learned, and there is a better balance. While I am back traveling, I can still achieve a lot through online communication, and it has allowed me to take on a new role as an independent board member of the FAI. This is something that I am proud of and it keeps me right in the heart of Irish football, but without the day-to-day workload that my previous role as the Association’s Technical Director demanded.

So my week’s activities are varied, but manageable, and it also allows me the odd day to devote to my family and golf!

For more information on the Amyloidosis Research Fund please click HERE.

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