“Teenagers today face enough pressures without feeling stressed on the pitch too.”
This comes from former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy as he spearheads the GAA Super Games Centres.
Donaghy a three-time All-Star and four-time All-Ireland winner is part of an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA.
The initiative is close to Kieran’s heart after he himself stepped away from the game at the age of fifteen for almost two years.
“The Super Games Centres encourage teenagers to stick with the sport through player empowerment and a focus on fun and participation over winning. It takes the stress and the competitive element away, which is why I think it’s so important. Teenagers today face enough pressures without feeling stressed on the pitch too.
A lot of teenagers today aren’t having fun and probably aren’t getting a game. I was one of these kids. I fell out of love with GAA and almost didn’t find my way back, but I’m living proof that you can re-focus your mindset. For me, I had to start enjoying it before I could really develop my skillset as a player.”
Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres; Colaiste Eoin in Carlow alongside Carlow footballer Paul Broderick, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast alongside Antrim hurling star Neil McManus and De La Salle College in Waterford under former Waterford manager Derek McGrath and alongside Waterford captain Noel Connors.
Kieran will conclude his journey with a visit to Na Fianna in Dublin to see how, at club level, they are also trying to fight teen drop off and how the concept of the Super Games Centres and its values can be reflected at club level.
The GAA Super Games Centres are one of three initiatives that Sky is supporting as part of its continued investment of €3m in Grassroots GAA over five years. For more information on the GAA Super Games Centres in partnership with Sky Sports, visit www.gaa.ie/supergamescentres.