THE head of Go Games GAA in Cork has called on coaches and parents of clubs to “act responsibly” at matches involving the county's youngest hurlers and footballers.
Colm Crowley, a Games Development Administrator on Leeside, is in charge of organising games for the U8 to U11 and explained in an email to all clubs that recent “unsavoury incidents” are undermining what are supposed to be fun and non-competitive events to promote a grá for GAA.
“We have some very unsavoury incidents so far,” wrote Crowley this week. “We have had a parent so enraged by a mentor's behaviour refereeing an U8 game, that he felt the need to confront the opposing mentor after the match.
“We have had a punch up on the sideline between parents and mentors. We have had a parent threatening a young referee.
"It is wholly inappropriate.” Underage GAA is Cork is centred on a Go Games model, which is non-competitive with clubs paired off based on squad size to maximise game-time for kids. There are one-, two- and three-team groupings, with young referees appointed to take charge.
While the scores are kept in a view towards grading from U12 up, there are no trophies or proper finals from U8 to U11.
Games are scheduled for every Saturday for nine- to 11-year-olds, apart from Bank Holiday weekends, while U8s are facilitated in blitzes.
“Rebel Óg Coaching and Games aim to provide a meaningful games program for all children.
"99% of issues ever raised to me, involve adults," warned Crowley.
“I also want it noted that some of the language and demeanour of some mentors and parents on the sideline is at best described as distasteful.
"Children just want to play and have fun. We grown-ups should put development and fun first, results should be a lower priority.”
Crowley, a Killeagh native who previously worked as a GDA in Dublin and coached their successful minor teams, has been in the role covering Go Games for three years.
“95% of this has been a success and the other 5% has been negativity.
"With each horror story received regarding referee abuse, uncooperative mentors, sideline behaviour of parents and mentors etc, it negates any desire to continue coordinating the Go Games program.
“I want to ask you all, one last time in 2018, respect the referee, respect your players, respect the opposition and finally respect yourself. Children look to you for guidance. Give them something positive to imitate.”