Tyrone star Conor Meyler on the challenges of staying sharp and staying busy

From penning on-line articles to posting training videos, it’s fair to say that Conor Meyler hasn’t allowed the grass to grow under his feet during this current Covid-19 ‘lockdown’.

The Omagh and Tyrone star has put his time to good use, writing some informative and well-received pieces for professional networking site LinkedIn as well as channelling his inner ‘Joe Wicks’ with a series of exercise videos to try and help others through this prolonged and testing period of isolation.

The Belfast-based primary schoolteacher states that he is currently operating from work (St Mary’s PS, Ravenhill Road) one day a week.

We’re offering children whose parents are frontline workers the opportunity to come in. I’m in one day a week (Tuesday) and the other days I’m teaching from home.

When we are in school, the numbers are low. You might have four or five, six or seven children in, and they could be children of any age. You’re really just minding them.

It’s actually fairly enjoyable. It’s nice to help and feel like you’re playing a small part in helping NHS staff.

If the school wasn’t open, it could affect how often they’re able to work, so it’s nice to give a wee bit back in that sense. And it’s nice to see the children.”

Meyler acknowledged that ‘working remotely’ poses challenges for teachers because of the importance that is normally placed on building up trust and a rapport with their class face to face.

I went into teaching because I really enjoy helping others, and a big part of that is through the social interaction with them, which you can’t get now.

That’s been a big change, but you’re taking pride in the small things, the satisfaction in seeing some of the work that they post and hearing how they’re getting on.

You build a relationship with your class and you start to miss them after a certain period.

It’s very tough for them as well, it’s a big change, but thankfully so far the online teaching has been working well.”

With his mother Paula working in the front line right now in the fight against the coronavirus (she is an Intensive Care unit nurse tending to Covid-19 patients in South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen) Conor is as aware as anyone of the current threat hanging over the country.

We have a full understanding really of how difficult the situation is, and how difficult it is for the nurses as well. People don’t see the work that they’re doing and the stress that it brings on them. It’s very challenging, but I’m very proud of what she’s doing as well.

She’s not one to complain, and we have a real appreciation here for the work that they are doing, because we see first hand what it’s like.”

Conor explained the thinking behind his range of exercise/ skills videos which he has posted in conjunction with his own club St Enda’s and Tyrone GAA.

I think that if I can help any young person get out and get active and help their skills, that’s great.

It’s very important that you don’t lose sight of the football skills, so at home I have been doing a bit of skill work in the garden. It’s very basic – right foot, left foot, kicking and fist-passing against a wall. It’s just whatever you can do, really.

A lot of people might watch it and do nothing, but if it helps one person, triggers one person to do a wee bit more, I know I have done something worthwhile.

I’m very keep to help in whatever way in can throughout this difficult time, if there are younger ones who would like a bit of advice on their skills, or on what they can be doing at home.

I have also posted a range of exercise videos for my schoolchildren and GAA skills videos.

I managed to get a rugby player to send me through a few rugby videos and a hurler to do a few hurling videos for the children in school, as well as a few yoga videos.

It’s just to try and make sure that the children are active. I know with my class, we would have been big into our PE, and I think it’s important that they still get their exercise when school isn’t there.”

The Red Hand player also explained why he had written a couple on pieces on LinkedIn about educational challenges for both parents and children brought about by the current Covid-19 crisis.

I’m doing a Masters through the GPA, the Jim Madden Leadership Programme to enhance leaders. We have had classes in Maynooth and Dublin, I’ve been working my way through that, keeping busy with assignments, but obviously we can’t meet up now for class.

It follows on from my Masters in UCD last year, when I did modules in educational psychology and wellbeing, and found those things really interesting. That made me want to continue to study.

I’m doing online courses as well to try and upskill, and that has led on to writing a few articles on LinkedIn, trying to get the word out, trying to inform and educate people on things that I’m learning and doing.”

As for football itself, Meyler states that like every other player right now he is trying to keep himself ticking over while at home in terms of fitness.

Thankfully, at the house here we have a small hill, so I’m able to do a few runs. We have a big of gym equipment in the shed here, and before everything went on lockdown three or four weeks ago, I managed to get a couple of weights from the club.

So I have had enough to keep me busy. The odd time I might be able to get to a pitch nearby that’s quiet, or a grass area to try and do some running. But really a lot of the work that you’re doing is at home.”

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