24 August 2015; Pictured are, from left, Waterford hurler Jake Dillon and Laois footballers Donie Kingston and Evan O'Carroll at the GAA Super Games Centre Research Results Launch which tackled drop out of youth players within the GAA. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

The GAA has revealed the findings of a major research project in tackling the drop off from sport among teenagers.

Working in partnership with the University of Stirling over the past three years, the Association created a new community entity entitled the GAA Super Game Centre in ten locations around the country.

The pilot programme offered 24 week programmes to a total of 430 players aged from 12 to 16 across the ten centres.  They were created with input from the national Games development Department under Pat Daly as well as 10 grassroots coaches from around the country and experts from the University of Stirling.


Worldwide trends reveal drop out from sport at levels of 50% and higher. A portion of this dropout may reflect sampling of sports, where children and youth are trying out or transferring between different sports.

However, some of the dropout from sport may reflect dissatisfaction or negative experiences and it was in this area that the GAA programme was focused.

“Like many sporting organisations around the world, the GAA has recognized the prevalence and health significance of young people dropping away from participation in sport,” said Daly.


“In 2012, we commissioned a research partnership with the University of Stirling in order to understand why people are disengaging from participation in Gaelic Games and more importantly how the GAA can proactively respond to meeting the needs of young people participating in our games.”

Players were exposed to small-sided games, which involved a form of coaching support based upon 6 key values identified from a review of evidence from around the world.

These were Positive Feedback, Respect, Belonging, Empowerment, Enjoyment and Effort.


“The objective of our research programme was to assist the GAA in order to test an alternative way to positively engage young players in participating in Gaelic Games,” said Daragh Sheridan, Research Lead on the project.

“Over a 24 week period 430 players created over 3,500 visits to the 10 Super Game Centres. Our research found the players received greater levels of social support which reduced their intention to drop out of Gaelic Games participation.”

“This findings were explained as a result of players developing a greater sense of the belonging to the GAA as a result of experiencing the 6 play to stay values.”


“Maximising participation in our games is a key strategic priority for the association” explained GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail.

“The recommendations from this research will enable the GAA to become an international leader in positive youth sport engagement. Our aim is to provide a regular programme of meaningful and inclusive games opportunities that set the conditions for life long participation in our games.”

“This is critical in safeguarding the significant role that Gaelic Games play in the health and well-being of local communities.”


The programme and the report were also welcomed by the Irish Sports Council for whom youth participation is also a key area.

“We are delighted to see the GAA take a lead role in tackling youth sports drop out, said CEO John Treacy.

“The use of cutting edge research to get closer to the needs of youth participants has to be commended. The lessons learned from the Super Game Center research have the potential to be applied right across Irish sport and thus ensure that we can maximize youth participation on a whole sport basis.”

Image Credit: Sportsfile

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