The Gaelic Players Association is looking to offer more to its members as individuals as part of a new three year strategic plan launched in Dublin last week.
The new focus bears the stamp of Dermot Earley who took over as CEO in January of this year and has been out and about with stakeholders to forge a vision of how he can lead the organisation most effectively.
There are six main themes to have emerged from the consultation with players, officials, managers, media and Government and each will have its own measurement of how successful the association can be in representing members.
The first is the one that defined the opening weeks of Earley’s tenure and relates to fixture planning and the creation of a master list covering hurling and football, county and club.
Playing a Better Game will focus on getting a united representative voice for players at the top end of the game and hopefully claiming leadership in representing all players.
Read More: Earley Shifts From Soldiers to Players
Advocacy on behalf of the GPA membership, which includes all players representing their County at senior level in both codes will be driven by a greater level of face to face engagement.
The management of the funds at the disposal of the Association, raised through fundraising, management of Government grants and commercial partnerships managed through both the GPA and the GAA is also given a priority with transparency a key element.
This will include greater investment in and encouragement of players to take part in leadership courses so that players can become community leaders at local, national and global level both when they are playing and afterwards.
Working with players to help them manage their own challenges and strike the right balance in the scales between life and sport and raising awareness of what the players do within their own communities are the final two strands of what Earley hopes to provide.
““I was delighted to take on the role of Chief Executive of the GPA earlier this year as I felt it was a great opportunity to continue the GPA’s journey to improve the lives of our intercounty players.”
Read More: New Three Year Deal for Gaelic Players
“I set out immediately to take soundings from our players around the country with two purposes in mind, to hear firsthand about the things that are important to them, and to reiterate to them that the GPA exists solely to support them, both on and off the field of play.”
“I also spoke with our many stakeholders around the country, including GAA officials, Government, Sport Ireland and many more, with a view to understanding their views about our organisation and how they can help our members.”
“The result of this period of consultation is a detailed strategy which I believe will forge a stronger bond with our members and will deliver on the things that matter to our players, from an improved master fixtures list, to enhanced player development programmes with greater participation, and greater public awareness of the contribution our players make to our wider society.”
“Our members routinely give everything to our national games, and they deserve to be fully supported in their efforts during their playing careers and beyond. That is at the core of this strategy and, between now and 2019; we are determined to deliver on every aspect for the betterment of the intercounty player.”
Find out more about our next major event looking at the impact of Sport for Social Good in September 2017.
In keeping with that view of representing the players there was a strong level of support from senior players in the game.
“The support and programmes provided by the GPA have helped me enormously, not just in my playing career, but also my own personal development,” said Kilkenny All Star Richie Hogan.
“I believe that the sooner the GPA can get the player to engage with them and be encouraged to participate in the programmes, from leadership to life skills to advice on how to manage their training with study or work, the easier it will be for that player to develop to their full potential, on and off the GAA field.”
“It’s very important that the GPA stays in touch with the player’s needs and listens to their concerns,” added Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons.
“That can only make this organisation stronger. Every player, even those at the very top of their game, faces challenges associated with playing the game at this level. Whether that is the challenge of combining playing with work or college, or dealing with the transition out of the intercounty game, the GPA can support each player at each step of their own personal experience.”
“A lot is expected of intercounty players and it’s important that they feel the reassurance that someone has their back. That’s what this strategy is about and why it is so important.”
Sport for Business Membership provides a network of information, innovation and intelligence to over 200 of Ireland’s leading organisations in sport and business including The Gaelic Players Association, PwC, The GAA, The FAI, Rugby Players Ireland and many more.