Sky Sports starts an important look at drop out from the GAA during teenage years as part of its Championship Review programme on Sky Sports Arena tonight.
Three-time All-Star and four-time All-Ireland winner, Kieran Donaghy, is leading the initiative.
He has filmed a series of special reports that shine a light on the work of the Super Games Centres, an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA.
Donaghy himself stepped away from the game at the age of fifteen for almost two years, only coming back into it through TG$’s Underdogs series, so he knows what he is talking about.
The series will explore the various factors contributing to youth drop out in the sport and more importantly, discussing what can be done about it.
On this week’s show, Donaghy chats to underage coach and fellow Sky Sports presenter, Jamesie O’Connor, before visiting his first ever Super Games Centre in Colaiste Eoin, Carlow on next week’s programme.
“The Super Games Centres encourage teenagers to stick with the sport through player empowerment and a focus on fun and participation over winning,” said Donaghy.
“It takes the stress and the competitive element away, which is why I think it’s so important. Teenagers today face enough pressures without feeling stressed on the pitch too.”
“A lot of teenagers today aren’t having fun and probably aren’t getting a game. I was one of these kids. I fell out of love with GAA and almost didn’t find my way back, but I’m living proof that you can re-focus your mindset. For me, I had to start enjoying it before I could really develop my skill set as a player.”
The GAA Super Games Centres is one of three initiatives that Sky is supporting as part of its continued investment of €3m in Grassroots GAA over five years.
As well as providing equipment and kits for the SGC centres, Sky also supports Super Games nationwide with ambassador visits. Previous ambassadors that have supported the Super Games include Conor McManus, TJ Reid, Con O’Callaghan, Jonny Cooper, Paul Geaney, Carla Roe and Joe Canning.
Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres; Colaiste Eoin in Carlow alongside Carlow footballer Paul Broderick, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast alongside Antrim hurling star Neil McManus and De La Salle College in Waterford under former Waterford manager Derek McGrath and alongside Waterford captain Noel Connors.
He will conclude his journey with a visit to Na Fianna in Dublin to see how, at club level, they are also trying to fight teen drop off and how the concept of the Super Games Centres and its values can be reflected at club level.
Image Credit: Inpho.ie