Wednesday 17 January 2018

Inter-county GAA players suffering in college and family life

The DCU squad celebrate with the Sigerson Cup this year - but a new study reveals many students suffer academically because of their sporting commitments
The DCU squad celebrate with the Sigerson Cup this year - but a new study reveals many students suffer academically because of their sporting commitments
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

GAA county players who are also college students are losing out academically because of the pressure of the sporting calendar, according to a new report.

The dual commitment they face is also causing financial difficulties, a lack of time with family and friends,  and problems with time management and stress .

Now the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is calling for major changes to the GAA fixture  list, particularly the congested January to March period.

More than one in three members of the GPA are student players, who as well as playing at county level,  are also under pressure to line out for their college.

The “Never Enough Time” report was compiled in response to issues raised by third-level student county players over the past two years.

GPA chief executive officer, Dessie Farrell said reconciling college and sport was one of the biggest challenges facing student county players.

He said that finding solutions to the problems occurring for this cohort of footballers and hurlers would require input and learning for players,managers and college authorities..

The report found that a majority of student county players may not be enjoying a high quality learning experience and required more support from their respective academic and sporting environments.

Key findings include:

- 55pc of student county players indicated that the feel under pressure to represent their college

- 50pc report that the feel overwhelmed by their commitments

- 40pc revealed they would like more time for their sport, 51pc more time to have a part time job, 56pc more time to devote to their studies and

61pc more time for family and friends.

- 55pc are experiencing financial difficulties

Significantly, 40pc of student county players surveyed by the GPA recently stated that they have had to repeat exams and 14pc had to repeat an entire academic year.

This is considerably higher than data from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which shows a  less than 6pc repeat rate across all third-level students.

The report, launched today, contains a number of proposals aimed at assisting  the GAA with its on-going efforts in addressing the national fixture programme.

Mr  Farrell said they believed that by tackling issues like overlapping competition structures they would be  lifting a significant burden off the shoulders of  young players who are committed to managing a difficult dual career between sport and studies.

“ However, compromise will be essential to solve the crux and we hope that the Student Report will encourage moves to initiate the necessary changes.”

Among the issues raised by players were: lack of a consistent planning in relation to playing and training schedules, academic underperformance, financial difficulties, a lack of time with family and friends, time management and stress.

The report’s  proposals include: 

*Restructuring fixture programme between January and March to avoid overlapping competitions

*examine changing U21 grade to U20 in football and hurling

*Removing colleges from pre-season inter-county competitions

*The establishment of GPA representation on the GAA Higher Education group to facilitate engagement with key stakeholders such as managers and educators

*Initiate education fundraising campaign to increase support for those who need it most

*Support the GAA’s development of player welfare mentor position at county level to help manage training and playing commitments of student county players representing multiple teams

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