OPEN GAA pitches for kids when they go back to school – that’s the plea from Carbery GDA James McCarthy.
Right now, GAA pitches across the country are closed because of Level 5 restrictions but Castlehaven senior football manager McCarthy feels that kids should be allowed to get back out on pitches once schools re-open.
There’s uncertainty as to when the 2021 GAA season will throw-in and even what shape it will take at club and inter-county levels, but McCarthy believes that whatever decisions are made need to take underage players into account.
‘To be honest, I think the latest restrictions are going to have a much bigger effect on the GAA’s underage population more than anyone else,’ McCarthy says.
‘There is a much more serious issue with kids not being able to go out on a GAA pitch. I’m not talking about training, I’m talking about kids being allowed go to a pitch, with their parents or a couple of friends, in a controlled, safe environment.
‘I believe the pitches should be reopened once kids go back to school. Again, not training in large groups, but just being able to kick a ball in the fresh air. I am seeing it first-hand myself, there is a serious problem growing with kids’ mental health.
‘It has been a tough January for everyone and the lockdown extension is making it even harder for people, especially young people.’
Outgoing GAA President Liam Horan, on RTÉ’s This Week radio programme last weekend, also said it’s his hope that underage GAA could return in the next month.
‘I would hope so. Subsequent to the meeting the other day I've had two follow up phone calls with the Minister for Sport who has been very helpful to us throughout all this pandemic and who has been very accessible to us and I indicated to him that I felt we as an organisation could return with our juveniles when our schools got back because it is good for the mental health of juveniles to get them back training. Up to Christmas we were operating in pods
safely within our clubs,’ Horan said.