Call for 'half game rule' for all sport clubs
Sporting bodies have been called on to introduce a 'half game rule' which would guarantee pitch playing time for amateur youth and adult athletes.
Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said Irish sporting organisations should follow the example of their UK counterparts and introduce a code of practice which would mean young adults could not be left on the sidelines during games.
"In the UK, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) intends to introduce the half game rule in rugby from September 2019," Mr Richmond said.
"This will ensure that all match-day squad players get at least a half a game of pitch time. This has been successfully implemented in New Zealand and Wales over the past three years with really positive feedback and good results on player retention," he added.
Under the GAA's Go Games guidelines, children up to the age of 11 are guaranteed equal pitch time. Similarly, the IRFU's mini rugby, which goes up to under 13s, has guidelines that all children should have equal opportunities.
However, Mr Richmond wants to extend this to older players.
"For a young sportsman or woman, there is nothing worse than training hard and giving up a Saturday afternoon or a Wednesday evening to tog out for a match, only to find themselves sitting on the bench for the whole game or only getting a token run for the last five minutes.
"While of course there is tactical merit to this at an elite level, surely the same can't be said for the social or underage levels, where the focus should really be about participation, inclusion and enjoyment.
"Players at all levels of sport regularly state that being part of the team is the most important thing to them. So pitch time is a major driver when it comes to player retention and enjoyment in sport.
"Be it junior B hurling or J4 rugby, men and women are paying to play through match fees and subscriptions and are dedicating their time and commitment to their club."