The Ladies Gaelic Football Association is expanding its Gaelic4Teens programme aimed at helping clubs to retain their current playing bases while also recruiting players in the 13-17 age bracket.
This is a key life stage for maintaining youth interest in sport and the LGFA started this programme in 2017 as a pilot before doubling in size last year and now growing again to encompass seventeen clubs in 2019.
The 17 clubs taking part this year are drawn from Clare, Kerry, Waterford and Tipperary in Munster; Dublin, Meath, Laois and Offaly in Leinster, Cavan and Monaghan in Ulster.
The programme will work closely with coaches, influencing the content of their coaching sessions as well as establishing the best ways for coaches to communicate with their players.
The programme will be monitored and evaluated to ensure that it achieves the aim of having a direct impact on the retention of players.
As well as tailoring training sessions, there will be a focus on education that will see well-known players including Cliodhna O’Connor from Dublin, Orlagh Farmer from Cork and Fiona MacHale from Mayo provide expertise and advice to participants for the duration of the programme.
The research that prompted the development of the Gaelic4Teens programme revealed that players play for enjoyment, to keep fit and healthy, to relieve stress and because their friends also play.
The reasons highlighted for giving up the sport are that they don’t get enough playing time, there is no fun at training, that it is too competitive and that they are treated differently.
The programme aims to highlight those positives and deliver ways of addressing the negatives. It will get underway this coming weekend with teams from the clubs coming together at Kilcock GAA Grounds in county Kildare and at the University of Limerick.