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Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: Time for sporting bodies to ramp up the pressure

NEVER again will we have so much time on our hands to reflect and self-evaluate so use this time wisely. Obviously things are extremely serious and we will have to weather this storm together, but by staying positive and helping each other hopefully we can defeat anything.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. This sentence was written on this day exactly one year ago and formed part of my article for that week. As I look back one year on, it amazes me that we have made very little progress, if any.

In my eyes we are no further ahead now than where we were at that point in time. Back then, one year ago, lockdown was introduced and we all went underground. Sport was halted and if we were honest, we probably thought that we would be up and running again after a few weeks. Even the most negative of person wouldn’t have predicted that we would still be here one year on.

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Granted the vaccines have arrived and although the North seems to be getting out of this mess, we here in the South seem to be making an even bigger mess – if that’s humanly possible. Obviously this caught us all by surprise and it’s new to everyone and no one has the answers, but I just feel that in a few years’ time when we look back and assess how we dealt with the whole situation I think we will be extremely disappointed.

I fully understand that Government must go on advice and see what’s happening elsewhere but my issue is the way in which our younger generation have been handled. It was clear from the outset that this virus posed more of a threat towards the elderly and those with underlying heath conditions. I get the need to protect those people but in doing that and with the measures introduced, somewhere along the line we forgot about the kids.

I have absolutely no problem with the cabinets on both sides of the border deciding what measures need to be taken in order to protect society but I would hope that at those meetings that someone would have had the sense to at least discuss how these extreme measures might affect the younger generations.

Children especially need to interact for their mental well-being and when we took that away from them we effectively pressed pause on their development. Look, I have already stated that I understand that these measures had to happen etc, but my issue is with the whole rationale around how we move in and out of lockdown and the damage that is causing.

My six-year-old son returned to school last week and his eyes lit up as we pulled up to the school gates. He saw other children his own age it changed his whole demeanour.

Fionn will spend the day in a room with around 20 other children and his teacher. The school have all the necessary safety measures in place and they are doing their bit, but my issue is that although it is deemed safe enough to continue in that environment we are told not to even think about putting on outdoor sports for these same children where they would be operating in an outside environment.

I take you back to my point at the cabinet meetings. Surely to God someone at those meetings would have the gumption to raise those points and highlight the benefits to those kids? We all want the economy to fully open and we all want a return to normal life and hopefully we are on our way to achieving that, but for me the next step has to be to allow the children to interact once more because If we don’t we will be dealing with issues far greater than lockdown for a very long time.

I feel it’s time the sporting bodies started to apply pressure on government to reopen sport for our children. We the GAA have been rambling on for weeks about how the intercounty game should be considered elite or not and how important it is for the National League to get going. Well in my own opinion the first people to step back onto the football pitch should be our children because their development and well-being is way more important than any county team.

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