Johnstown BNS take on Hollypark BNS in the Allianz Cumann na mBunscoil Finals, contested by primary schools across the country. James Crombie/INPHO

GAA considers 'silent sideline' plan to stop parents shouting at children

President Liam O’Neill has moved to protect young GAA players from over-enthusiastic parents.

THE GAA IS considering having some underage games played in total silence in an effort to stop over-enthusiastic parents shouting at children.

GAA president Liam O’Neill said that shouting at children, especially admonishing them, during games was unacceptable and lowered their self-esteem.

Now he is considering having U6 and U8 games being played in silence in an effort to stamp out the practice.

“I worry all the time about how people in 50 years’ time are going to view us in the GAA at the moment and what they are going to say about us and say look what they did in 2014 and I think we have to look into our hearts and examine what we’re doing.

We put children out on the field sometimes, we feel it’s okay to shout at them, we lower their self-esteem and we don’t realise that when we shout at a child you’re actually too late because he or she has already made the mistake and you can’t do anything about it.

“So we’re sending negative messages to the them and the appeal I have made to people is, not to do that, not to lower a child’s self-esteem because if you lower a child’s self-esteem by a derogatory remark, it takes 20 positive remarks to take the child’s self-esteem up to where he or she was before the comment was made,” he said.

Do you feel that some underage GAA games should be played in silence?

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The GAA made the issue one of their priorities for the U14 Féile Peil na nÓg tournament which was hosted by Connacht counties last weekend.

The GAA president and other officials visited schools and clubs in the build-up to the tournament, which featured U14 football clubs from all over the country, and made the appeal to parents and team officials.

But despite the appeal there were incidents at the tournament of over-excited parents and team coaches roaring at children, although the competition passed without any major incidents.

The finals took place at the Connacht GAA Centre at Bekan on Sunday when an estimated 10,000 watched the finals in various grades of a competition which featured over 2,000 children.

“The message I gave before that Féile, I spoke to coaches, and before the Féile na Gael event when I visited schools and I visited clubs was that I wanted people to stop shouting at children.

And we’re starting a major campaign on that and if we have to, we will play U6s and U8s in silence so people can’t shout at them.

“The tournament was an outstanding success but there is always room for improvement and it is just not acceptable for adults to shout at children playing games,” added the GAA president, who was speaking in Galway where he launched the 100,000 Steps for Cormac, a charity event which will take place next month.

The walk is being organised by former Galway All-Ireland winning captain Joe Connolly and aims to raise €100,000 for Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of suicide and self-harm.

The walk will involve GAA personalities from all over the country and will commemorate his nephew Cormac Connolly, who died of an inoperable brain tumour three years ago at the age of 24.

‘It’s falling down, but there’s something special about Páirc Uí Chaoimh’ — Pa Cronin

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