GAA players and families paying too high a price?

Updated: March 3, 2012

Munster Chairman, Kerry man, Sean Walsh made some very relevant points at last night’s Munster Convention at Lawlor’s Hotel in Dungarvan where he spoke of the vast amount of time that (amateur) players were having to spend training and the huge cost to them, their families and financially to their counties.

In his Convention address, Walsh said:
“The preparation of intercounty senior teams is at such a high level that all teams have come to realise that nothing short of the super human efforts being put in by county players will lead to success. Vince Lombardi, the famed American Football Coach said and I quote “Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”

I strongly believe that we have reached an unprecedented and perhaps dangerous level of preparation for amateur players who have to combine work, family life and then in their so called leisure time, training at a level that some players in professional sports would find difficult to endure. The fact that it is expected and considered necessary is even worse”.

Walsh went on: “The proof of this is in the fact that a good intercounty dual player is indeed a rarity, if present at all, such are the demands of being part of a county panel. The debate of amateur versus professional is currently on going in the media and is a topic of conversation among many GAA members. At the moment amateurs players are doing a professional amount of work, a situation that is seeing many of them leave the game before they should. I have never known a player who would not to do what is asked of him in the pursuit of excellence and in the hope of success. But when is enough considered too much, for the player still operating in the amateur game.
As an Association we have made great strides and continue to do so year on year. Having people in positions where they have to be remunerated for the work that they do for the Association doesn’t seem to sit well with a lot of members. But as an Association over the years we grew at an unprecedented pace and reached a level which required the Association to employ full time people in Croke Park, provincial councils and in counties. Games Managers and Games Development Administrators are working full time at practically every divisional level in the counties.

These are very professional people doing a very successful job for the Association but at the same time allowing us to be a very successful amateur sporting organisation, keeping us successful and amateur at the same time. I have long held the view that the membership of the Association always made the right decisions for the Association at the right time when requested to do so, and I have every confidence and trust in the membership that they will continue to do so into the future”.

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