Clubs ready to open their gates again for underage GAA players

April 26 marks the return to training for U18s in all outdoor sports
Clubs ready to open their gates again for underage GAA players

Carrigaline camogie squad during training last June at Carrigaline GAA grounds. Picture: Jim Coughlan

AS children in clubs all over the county countdown to the returning to the pitches, the Camogie Association, in a joint announcement with the GAA and LGFA and the Covid-19 advisory group, prepared a guidance document and recommendations to advise clubs about the safe resumption of activities.

It’s been a long wait for children who have been through so much, the thing they have in their favour is that they have done this previously and they know the drill.

Children are very resilient and they have seen how the last return to play worked, they are also now back in school and this is a huge help to club volunteers as they strive to have a safe training environment.

In my own club, Glen Rovers, our younger brigade amazed me.

I have to say they were superb when we returned from lockdown one, it was wonderful to see them arrive and go to their respective stations and as a matter of course sanitize their hands and have their hurleys and helmets sprayed before they entered the training area.

The support from the parents many of whom stepped up and were team Covid officials helped the coaches enormously and I’m sure it was and will be the same in every club around the county as we all put in the effort to keep our players safe.

A repeat of that extraordinary commitment will be equally important this year in ensuring a safe and enjoyable year for everyone involved in camogie regardless of level or ability.

The priority at all times must be to protect the health and welfare of all those involved and to minimise the risk of transmission within our communities.

Safe return to sports is the responsibility of each player and backroom member and a few of the pointers are worth looking at again.

Prior to the first training session players, parents/guardians and backroom personnel must complete the standard risk assessment health questionnaire which each club will issue them with or they may do this online.

Symptoms will be identified on the form and any player/ mentor with these is advised to not participate or return to training.

For each session, a parent will check in their child via the online method or with the team's Covid officer who will keep a record of everybody in attendance at each session.

Every team in the club must have someone with responsibility for Covid supervision presents at each training session these nominees must complete the online module which outlines their exact role.

Covid persons will be on duty and will be clearly identifiable at all times, the main duties of the Covid persons for a team will include: Ensuring players and backroom personnel complete the health questionnaire, ensure sanitising of facilities is completed before and after each training session, maintaining records of attendees.

The Covid persons of each team and the club's Covid supervisor will ensure that the record of everybody attending each training session will be available in the event that contact tracing is required.

Before a mentor or player hits the training pitch there are a few basic things that will help keep them safe, wash your hands frequently regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Dressing rooms, club gyms and social areas in clubs will remain closed until further notice, toilets will be available to use but ventilation is important, doors and windows should remain open in so far as is reasonable and appropriate.

Appropriate signage should be placed at the entrance of club facilities, these signs should be clearly visible and easy to understand.

Hand dispensers should be provided in all areas and especially at the entrance to pitch and pitchside.

Only players and team personnel should gain access and medical personnel and physios should wear masks and a facility for disinfecting balls, sliotars, hurleys, helmets should to be used regularly.

In the event that a player becomes unwell during a training session facilities should be in place for immediate isolation in a designated room, this could be a dressing room as they will not be in.

There will be a clearly defined protocol for linking up with the appropriate medical service or a parent if the player is underage.

It seems like a lot of work but 'we have been there before and we have this under control'.

Enjoy the return to the training pitches everybody and stay safe.

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