NORMALLY at this time of the year, underage coaches are busy planning training sessions and are delighted to see the evenings getting brighter.
They are looking ahead to see who they are playing in the league and dare I say it the thoughts of some would be turning to potential upcoming championship ties.
Of course for the younger players championship doesn’t come into the reckoning but for many it does and players and coaches alike love the cut and thrust of a championship tie, especially if it happens to be against near-neighbours or arch-rivals from across the city and county.
The same right now could be said of many sports as all at underage level await the return to action and hopefully in the not-too-distant future the return of actual games.
But even though there was no on-field activity taking place over the last few months many clubs have concentrated on recruiting new or potential coaches to work with underage teams or in related roles of responsibility.
The coach education series by the GAA has provided a pathway for new or potential coaches the opportunity to get involved with their local clubs, with many taking the opportunity to do so, or indeed to brush up on their skills.
But in the changed times we live in, much of it for the better, one important aspect of being involved now is that all coaches or adults involved with underage sections mean they have to be vetted and also must have done the Safeguarding Child Protection Workshop.
These additional coaching programmes have naturally led to a surge in applications to attend the safeguarding workshop and officials at Croke Park and in Cork are well aware of the demand for the courses, and also the pressure of trying to deliver them online.
In Cork, we are very lucky to have the likes of Des Cullinane to deliver such courses and over the last few months, he has been busy on a weekly basis doing so.
Such has been the demand that Croke Park had to issue a statement on the matter to all club secretaries in recent days.
It reads: “The current temporary ban on face-to-face training has put pressure on our delivery of virtual safeguarding training with every available online slot utilised on a daily basis.
“We are currently delivering virtual Safeguarding Training Workshops, via our agreed training platform, seven days a week and we are extremely grateful to our safeguarding tutors who have rallied to the call and made themselves available on each and every day as called upon.
“While new and potential coaches are also obliged to submit and complete their vetting applications and have achieved, as a minimum, a foundation/fundamentals coaching qualification, we are pleased to introduce special arrangements that will assist them in achieving their safeguarding requirements while they await attendance at a virtual or face-to-face safeguarding training workshops.
“As a temporary measure, new or potential coaches of underage teams who have completed or are completing their foundation/fundamentals coaching qualification may avail of a short-term arrangement and fulfill their initial safeguarding training requirements by completing the Safeguarding 1 Online Refresher Programme.
“For new or potential coaches of underage teams, this training will be known as the Temporary Safeguarding 1 Programme. This safeguarding training recognition will suffice for them to commence in a coaching or related role of responsibility, in addition to the aforementioned requirements.
“This temporary agreement remains in place until such time as the new coach has attended their virtual or face-to-face safeguarding workshop. While the SG1 Online refresher programme is a safeguarding recognised training programme in itself the agreement being proposed is temporary and shall expire on December 31, 2021, unless renewed by the NCSC.
“On completion of the Temporary Safeguarding 1 Programme, the underage coach shall present their Safeguarding 1 Refresher certificate to their Club Children’s Officer. All new or potential coaches who have applied to attend a virtual Safeguarding 1 workshop via their club are (or have been) allocated a workshop date. I cannot emphasise how important it is to fulfill this arrangement once they are informed of their workshop date.
The above arrangements apply to new underage coaches and does not apply to current coaches or those who work in coaching or other roles of responsibility at Cúl Camps or club camps later this year.”
So while we await the return of games now is the time for coaches to get their paperwork in order or else you may find yourself watching from outside the wire, rather than inside it where you might want to be.
The Temporary Safeguarding 1 Programme may be accessed and completed at https://learning.gaa.ie/tempsafeguarding1.