'Kids can't go into a fully ventilated hall to play sport with a fully vaccinated coach'

Cork basketball coach Pa Curran driving bid to allow young players return to indoor training
'Kids can't go into a fully ventilated hall to play sport with a fully vaccinated coach'

The Bantry U14 basketball team with their coach Pa Curran after beating Youghal All Stars in the U14 B championship semi-final at the Parochial Hall in 2019.

BASKETBALL clubs in Cork are growing increasingly frustrated with the uncertainty about the return to action this season.

Indoor sports have been disproportionately impacted by Covid restrictions, and basketball were forced to abandon the end of the 2019-'20 season and then call off the 2020-'21 campaign just as tip-off was approaching.

For a spell last summer, training was permitted indoor in pods, but otherwise male and female basketball players of all ages, aside from Ireland's international teams from U16 to senior, have had to train outdoors.

Bantry coach Pa Curran has taken to social media to vocalise the concerns the basketball community is facing in keeping players interested when they don't even know if they'll be allowed to compete or train across the winter.

He is urging people to sign a petition here, which has been driven by Kerry basketball fanatic and coach Fergal O'Sullivan.

"It's 10.45am and I just sent out a text to parents saying that our two-hour U15 and U16 session has to be cancelled due to the torrential rain and the outdoor courts being too slippy and dangerous. 15 kids and one fully vaccinated coach," explained the teacher who is also heavily involved in coaching at second level, where the sport thrives nationally.

Now their day will mostly consist of looking into screens in their bedrooms. It's the easy alternative. They won't meet their friends today. 

"They'll sit on their couches playing video games and engaging in Snapchat and TikTok. They won't get exercise. There will be no release of endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body today. Again.

"Instead, they will continue with the spiral of isolation that has become normal to them in the last 17 months. I genuinely worry for their mental health.

"15 kids cannot go into a fully ventilated hall to play sport under the guidance of a fully vaccinated coach. 15 kids who have been so compliant with what has been thrown at them over the last 17 months. Try explaining the contradictions in public health guidelines to them. They can't understand.

"By 'protecting' them we are disabling them. The risks are minimal when weighed up against the long-term consequences of what we are doing now. Our vulnerable are fully vaccinated. Over 70% of our adult population are too.

"We can do it safely.

"Let us back.

"Let the kids play."

GLAMOUR

Curran, who hit the headlines recently when international model and actress Emily Ratajkowski sponsored the U15 and U16 teams through her clothing brand Inamorata. 

The star of Gone Girl has a strong west Cork link through her parents and regularly travels to the area.
Bantry Basketball Club tweeted: "To all the journalists who got inches and airtime filled from us answering every call from this we need your help now. Please make contact with us to highlight the frustrations in the Irish Basketball community at not letting us back indoors and not even giving us a road map."

As Curran pleaded: "Scores of adults can drink indoors in small pubs. Kids can be with them. 

A fully vaccinated coach and 15 kids cannot train basketball in huge fully ventilated halls. 

"For those who have said this to me and for those who think 'why are they complaining once they can play away outside?'

"Outdoor courts are made of tarmacadam. Basketball players wear basketball shoes, not studs!

"Rain on tarmacadam = A & E."

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