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Coaching scheme to create jobs for players

THE GAA expects to confirm the establishment of up to 250 jobs for players in the next few weeks.

Welcoming the imminent jobs boost, Seán Potts, the GPA's media manager, said his organisation was also doing everything it could to help ease the burden at a time when roughly 300 inter-county players are unemployed.

"We're doing all we can to help," Potts said. "A third of our membership is in the student population and last year we handed out 340 scholarships rising up to €1,000 each.

"In the past 10 months alone, we have engaged with almost 700 inter-county players and helped them with advice and start-up of courses. We're well aware of the overall numbers leaving our shores and we're helping members with business courses, career development, networking and advice on returning to college.

"But these are worrying times; we've seen that with the huge uptake in our counselling services. When we started this service we weren't sure that there would be much interest but that has not been the case. It's been in huge demand and that's not a good sign."

The GAA, however, hopes to benefit soon from a Government initiative aimed at under 25s and the long-term unemployed. The plan, known as 'Tus', is spread across all sporting bodies and is funded by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Croke Park officials are currently formalising their involvement in the scheme -- successful applicants for the 200-plus jobs will then be employed as coaches once the green light is given.

GAA president Christy Cooney, director-general Páraic Duffy and director of games Pat Daly have all spoken with minister éamon ó Cuív and his officials and want to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.

"We are awaiting some response from the Government of exactly how the scheme can work, as it varies," Cooney said.

"Hopefully, we'll have a response from them in the next week or so. We are keen to be involved and we are keen to take some people on that can assist, particularly in the urban areas, in coaching structures, in bringing the game to people.

"We are very supportive of the project and happy to be involved. It is a question of just working out the mechanics."

Insiders say the scheme could be up and running by September once the recruitment process, in conjunction with FÁS and the Department of Social Protection, is complete.

With 1,000 people leaving these shores each week, the creation of these jobs would at least help keep promising young hurlers and footballers at home. Last week, Cork manager Conor Counihan revealed that three of his All-Ireland winning team were currently out of work.

And the Sunday Independent understands that the Monaghan footballers will be without the services of Rory Woods who has moved to New York and will miss the entire 2011 season. It was hoped that Woods would stay in the country after a recent return home from the Big Apple but those hopes have now been dashed. Instead, he will fly back to the US in search of work.

Sunday Indo Sport