Northern Ireland news

Student GAA players `overwhelmed' by commitments

Action from St Mary's v IT Tralee. One third of GPA members are third level students. Picture by Mal McCann

MORE than half of student inter-county GAA players feel overwhelmed by their commitments, a major survey has found.

New research from the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) found the lives of many young footballers and hurlers were a juggling act.

The Student Report 2019 revealed insights into the lives of more than a third of its members, who are third-level students.

It found full-time students faced the challenge of managing the demands of being an inter-county player alongside academic commitments and personal lives.

The report found that 54 per cent of students "regularly feel overwhelmed".

Almost two in every three admitted to finding it difficult to manage all the commitments associated with being a student athlete.

In addition, the report found:

:: 35 per cent had to repeat a college exam; 11 per cent repeated an entire academic year

:: 65 per cent said their training load negatively affected their academic performance

:: 54 per cent claimed they received no support from their college if under pressure

:: 48 per cent felt more like an inter-county player than a student trying to earn a degree

:: 80 per cent said said being a student athlete put financial pressure on their family

The GPA said it would include a mental health literacy workshop as part of the new suite of programmes for inter-county squads.

All GPA staff will also participate in mental health first aid training and a gambling awareness workshop.

Almost every member who had taken part in the GPA's Player Development Programme reported that it assisted them in their off-field lives.

"Being a player should help our members develop valuable transferable skills and not prohibit them from performing to an optimal level academically, or negatively impact them financially, physically or emotionally," said GPA Chief Executive Paul Flynn.

"Without a doubt, the demands on student players has never been greater but with the right supports in place they can achieve greater success in life and make a positive contribution to the overall college environment."

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