Outdoor sports attendance vital to mental health recovery - Thomas Gould TD
Deputy Thomas Gould has called on the government to liaise with NPHET to reassess the risk involved in attending GAA and other outdoor sporting events.
Teachta Gould said:
“I have been contacted today by players, parents, grandparents, club members and officials from the GAA regarding the lack of tickets available for Club Championship matches. Throughout the pandemic, it was GAA clubs who stepped up to raise funds for charities, deliver groceries, meals and medicine to cocooners and who checked in on isolated elderly people. They were quick to act on public health guidance and the wellbeing of players, match officials and attendees was paramount in their decision-making.
“For so many people the possibility of watching their club play in the Championship was the only bright light during these difficult times and it is heartbreaking to see that stripped away from them. We cannot undermine public health guidance, however as our knowledge base expands and we being to see the consequences of certain activities, reassessment is necessary.
“With only 200 people allowed in a venue, including match officials and players this actually means only 80 supporters can attend in total. This means there are many people missing out on the chance to watch their children or club play. Championship restructuring will mean that for many teams the season will be over prior to the lifting of guidelines on 10th August and some won’t get to see their club play at all this year.
“The GAA is an important social outlet for so many people, particularly older people who have been effected so severely by this pandemic. With so much still not open, it is vital that we consider people’s mental wellbeing alongside their physical safety. People have contacted me devastated that they will be unlikely to be able to attend sporting matches this year.
“Many of the sport venues around Cork would be large enough to safely hold more than 200 people with social distancing. If the capacity was increased to 500 for example, the majority of those currently disappointed would be able to attend because we’re not talking about sell-out games. These are not matches for large crowds. They’re for dedicated supports who are committed to their club.
“While I fully understand the need for risk management and reduction, I would ask that the government consult NPHET on this issue and further clarify the guidelines; particularly in relation to larger stadiums such as Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“If we can trust anyone to adhere to public health guidelines, it is the GAA and its members and they have already proven this throughout the pandemic so far.”