FRUSTRATED Bantry basketball coach Pa Curran is urging the Government to open up indoor sports immediately.
Basketball clubs can train outdoors now but are not allowed train indoors. Recent wet weather, for example, has meant that Curran and many more Bantry coaches have had to cancel several club training sessions.
‘I feel that the Government has forgotten about indoor sports,’ Curran told The Southern Star.
‘It seems that they are just happy to let us play outside but when you are playing basketball outside on tarmacadam and there is any bit of rain at all, it becomes a health and safety issue. Kids wear shoes on the court, not studs.
‘At least you can play rugby, soccer and GAA outside even when it’s raining, but it’s a big problem when there is surface water on an outdoor basketball court and kids are running around. Most of our sessions last week were cancelled because it was just too wet. At the start of this week we got a good few hours in because the weather was better but given how unpredictable it all is, you can only go from day to day.’
On Tuesday, after ladies coach Niamh O’Neill had to cancel another training session, Bantry Basketball Club tweeted: ‘All trainings off tonight due to dangerous courts. We have two empty indoor courts, plenty (of) vaccinated players and coaches but we have not heard a word back from Minister for Sport since we wrote to him two weeks ago.’
Curran and the basketball community are growing more and more frustrated with the current situation as indoor sports have not received a return date. They are concerned too that the sport will lose a lot of players who haven’t been able to train indoors for the past 18 months and who have missed out on a vital stage of their basketball development.
‘I think we need to get back inside immediately,’ Curran said.
‘You have people now indoor at theatres, cinemas, restaurants and pubs, and kids can go in and out, but a fully vaccinated coach can’t coach a bunch of kids in a huge hall that is fully ventilated. Our hall in Bantry is a state-of-the-art facility.
‘You will have kids inside in classrooms in three weeks’ time, it will be double the amount of kids than you’d have at a training session and in a far smaller room that is one fifth the size of a basketball court. It beggars believe that the Government have forgotten about indoor sports.
‘Clubs have even had to cancel fundraising camps because of bad weather, and they are losing out on important revenue. For a lot of kids in Bantry this is their main sport. Eighteen months out for a teenager whose main sport is basketball is too long. It’s a huge time to miss in their development.’
Curran is calling on the Government to open up indoor sports as soon as possible.
‘I’m flabbergasted that we are in this situation,’ he said.
‘The Government has spent so much time talking about mental health and obesity over the years but they haven’t said that we need to get indoor sports opened the minute it is safe to do so. When they opened indoor dining, that should have been when they opened indoor sports.
‘Basketball Ireland are lobbying hard, but it’s above them. It’s very frustrating. We need a date, we need someone to say, “look, we’re back inside on this date”. If we knew that we could get on with it for the next few weeks and then get kids back playing the sport they love indoors.’
Curran has raised his concerns with local TDs, Christopher O’Sullivan and Holly Cairns.