Children can be put off of a lifetime of sports if things are too competitive at too young an age, Ciara Kelly has warned.
It comes after Irish Examiner columnist Jennifer Horgan wrote a column warning that playing to win is the wrong philosophy and asked whether the GAA had become too competitive for younger children.”
Ciara said her own experiences as a child suggest there is some truth in the claims.
“As a former kid who wasn’t particularly good at sports, I was the person - and you still remember; I still remember it - being the last person picked for the team and things like that because I wasn’t very good,” she said.
“The competition element frightened me and put me off competitive sports and made me not want to keep them up.
“Obviously, competition is great and we all follow teams and things like that and it is good but the bigger picture is about keeping kids involved.
“The participation, the taking part and the exercise. The healthy stuff that comes from a lifetime of being involved in physical activity and sport and all of those things.
She said the competitive element can definitely put children off if it is introduced at too young an age.
“Being left on the sideline or not getting game time or being the last one picked or comments that are made - I think someone said I ran like a duck once - things like that; they put you off,” she said.
“I’m just being honest. I wasn’t the kid who was good at sports and I was the kid that was probably left on the sideline.
“It definitely put me off and I suspect I am not unusual because a lot of kids are not good at sports.”
Fellow presenter Shane Coleman said he coaches an underage girls team and the whole philosophy is about “getting girls out to play and sticking with it and staying with it”.
“As a coach, it is something, we do have to check ourselves,” he said.
“You can get caught up in the, ‘oh we need to win this game’ and you have to stop yourself and say actually, do you know what, it is not the end of the world.
“Our philosophy is about getting girls out to play and sticking with it and staying with it. We have been reasonably successful in that.
“We have four football teams and three camogie teams in our age group and there is a place for everybody in our team and I hope that is the philosophy.”
He said the GAA has historically done better than sports like underage soccer – where the competitive edge is introduced much sooner.
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