Meet the Celtics: Arun Dhananjay

In our interview series we take the time to get to know our players and members and get a little insight into their lives. We find out about their experiences of Gaelic football and hurling, how they came to the sports, their experience with the Celtics, life in Germany and in particular about life in our „Domstadt“. As well as that we look to discover any cultural misunderstandings or differences they have felt and the vital questions such as the best place to get a cold Guinness.

This time we would like you to meet Arun Dhananjay, who’s from India and a team member since 2020.


What brought you to Germany/Cologne?
I came to Germany as part of my profession, I am basically a software engineer. I have been deputed here from an Indian firm called TATA and the location was Leverkusen. So I preferred to be in Cologne which is the most happening area near by.

How would you describe your life in Germany?
It is wonderful so far. I was lucky enough to meet many local residents through my interest in games. I always love to explore new cultures. Language is biggest hurdle to be here. I learned the basic German words to survive.

Germans are straight to the point and very open to convey their view of any situation or issues. This is my generic read. Weekends are best to be in Cologne with so many events and parties, time flies here.

How did you come across the Cologne Celtics?

Arun bei seinem 1. Training mit den Cologne Celtics // Foto: Steffi Karrenbrock

I came across the Cologne Celtics through my colleague, who thought that it is a football club. He knows I am very much interested in football , so he referred it to me.

I still remember my first day. I came to the ground with my football kit and saw the green field and posts. I had a cool reception from everyone. Then I saw the ball, I felt some difference and was a bit confused. Then I approached Stephen and he told me that this is different. Ha ha, that was the moment. Then it was full of excitement, new rules, new training and I loved it.

Had you heard much about the GAA before starting playing with the Cologne Celtics?
No, I was new to the system and I think I was able to adapt.

How would you describe hurling and Gaelic Football? What’s the difference between them and more “traditional sports” in Germany? (Such as football…)
I am from India, as everyone knows India is famous for cricket. My childhood was also full of cricket, so I felt hurling has some relation with cricket. I would say it is a mixture of hockey and cricket. Then while dribbling it has a unique style and skill. Gaelic football is similar to football, but dribbling is tougher here. As I am used to normal football I always forget the rules and get it mixed up. Both sports need more energy so never ever play without proper warm up. In both cases heavy eye-hand-leg coordination is required.

Which is your preferred sport – Hurling or Gaelic Football? Why?
For me it is hurling. I was able to control the ball and bat quickly. In Gaelic football I am facing issues while picking the ball. Otherwise, I love both, further practice may make me perfect a Gaelic footballer. I am so thankful to each and everyone because I was introduced to two great sports.

What have you learned about Ireland / Irish people since joining the Cologne Celtics GAA club?
I feel that they are more caring compared to the tough character of Germans. But I did not get much chance to interact outside the playtime. I will try to learn more in the upcoming months.

What does the Cologne Celtics GAA club mean to you?
I feel that it is a nice club , well organized with a group of superb people who always spread their arms wide apart to invite more and more interested people.

How would you convince those who are interested but have not yet joined in to join their local GAA club?
I would say it’s the best opportunity to keep ourselves fit. As the training sessions are good for any sports loving person and pretty effective from my experience.

Where will you be in 5 years’ time?
I will be in India, because we cannot stay here for very long due to visa restrictions, I will try for any alternative, but if nothing works out I will be in India. The sad thing is I will miss GAA, because football is something which even in India we play, though it is not up to German standards, but Gaelic sports are tough to find in India.

Veröffentlicht von Steffi

Writer + Photographer // Köln

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