One of the largest consultation processes in the history of the GAA has found many good practices in place, but also a number of challenges to the development of our players.
At a time when sport is being challenged and influenced by elitism, globalisation, commercialisation and professionalism, the GAA is committed to its values of Amateur ethos, Community Identity and Inclusion.
At the beginning of his term GAA President John Horan established the Talent Academy & Player Development Review Committee emphasising: “The proper development of young players is an investment in the future well-being of our Games.”
Having overseen the adoption of the report by Central Council as of June, the Uachtarán described the recommendations of the report “as essential to re-establishing the values of the organisation, to ensure that Clubs are at the centre of all our development processes, supporting the retention of players in a sustainable way in line with our culture. “
Chaired by Michael Dempsey, the Committee members brought a depth of expertise and experience in coaching and player development and included Brian Cuthbert and incoming Director of Coaching and Games Development Shane Flanagan. The committee surveyed over 1000 stakeholders across all 32 Counties as part of the process.
The main focus of the committee was identified as establishing a policy for youth development which aligns club, school, third level and inter-county games programmes to address the current concerns with county talent academy squads and inter-county teams.
One of the first tasks of the Committee was the establishment of a Vision, Mission and Commitment for player development in Gaelic games, focussing on building a system for the 99% of players who participate across the pathway without ever reaching Inter-County Senior representation.
The Committee Report, launched in Croke Park today, adopts as policy a new Player Pathway Framework for Gaelic games. This framework is supported by enhanced Education Opportunities for all stakeholders, Improved Governance of youth development programmes and Synergised Games Programming across Club, School, Third Level and Inter-County.
Key recommendations include:
Player Pathway Framework
· Repositioning the Club at the centre of all developmental processes and policies through a new Player Pathway Framework
· Underpinning the framework with a best practice programme
· Embedding synergised player development practices within the Club, School and Talent Academy environments
· Aligning education opportunities to the Pathway
· Providing specific opportunities for all stakeholders – personnel, officers, coaches, and parents to deliver and support the programme
· Through Coach Education instilling in all our stakeholders a developmental philosophy for player development
· Building the management capacity at all levels to support the framework
· Enhanced Longer term County Planning
· Realigning funding to the new vision for player development
· A Coordinated and coherent games programme aligned to the pathway framework, inclusive of meaningful and appropriate development-based competitions for our underage players
· Aligning the Games Programme at Club, School and Inter-County to the Pathway
· Ensuring the Games Programme up to U-17 is developmentally focussed
· Coordinated windows for related games programmes within a coherent fixtures calendar
Talent Academy & Player Development Work Group Members
Michael Dempsey (Chair. Former Kilkenny senior hurling coach and Laois footballer)
Jenny Duffy (Secretary. Former Cork camogie player and Head of Gaelic Games at Maynooth University)
Jeffrey Lynskey (Galway minor hurling manager)
Jason Sherlock (Dublin senior football coach and county minor manager in 2018)
Shane Flanagan (incoming GAA Director of Games Development, former Kildare underage footballer)
Dr. Eugene Young (Director of Coaching and Games Development Ulster GAA)
Ray O’Brien (Former Chairman of GAA Higher Education Council)
Garrett Coyle (Former Coaching Officer for Monaghan GAA)
Brian Cuthbert (Former Cork senior football manager)
Fergal O’Donnell (Former Roscommon senior football player and manager)
Jamesie O’Connor (Former Clare senior hurler and schools coach)