“We need to get back to allowing young people to train and play games.”
Colm O’Rourke has spoken out about the lack of certainty for young people when it comes to a return to GAA and sport.
As a secondary school principal, as well as a coach with Simonstown GAA, O’Rourke knows more than most about the effect that lockdown has had on young people across the country.
The former Meath player has seen young people having to use their phone as a crutch over the last 11 months and fears this will have long-term implications if it isn’t addressed now.
“Some young people are not seeing the light of day as they go from one screen to another,” O’Rourke wrote in The Sunday Independent.
“It is neither a healthy nor a happy lifestyle. On top of that, it fosters bad habits.
“Young people on buses, trains or waiting anywhere are eyes down on their phones. No looking around at birds, animals, people. No listening to the wisdom of older generations.
“If it is not on Google, then it is not worth anything.”
Underage GAA return.
The Sunday Game analyst also asked why the GAA cannot safely return at underage level if it was able to do so last year.
“Around the country, at this time of year the lights of GAA pitches would usually illuminate the night sky,” O’Rourke continued.
“Now we are plunged into a form of darkness without an end in sight as we adopt this cautious approach.
“Nobody is suggesting big crowds at matches, but training and games for underage players was safe last year, so what has changed? Did I miss where that was explained?
“There is another matter that must be considered. The one-size-fits-all model is not fit for purpose, either in school or GAA terms.
As a school principal, O’Rourke has had to deal with the fallout that another lockdown as brought, with a number of mental health issues arising among his student.
“As a school principal, I had to deal with an increasing number of mental health issues among our students in the last week.”
While the two-time All-Ireland winner appreciates it’s a tough balance for the government to find, he feels they must do more to get young people playing sports.