GAA to clamp down on competitiveness for players under 12 years of age

The GAA is set to clamp down on any form of competition for players under the age of 12. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
The GAA is set to clamp down on any form of competition for players under the age of 12. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

CROKE Park are set to clamp down and bring sanctions against those involved in providing any form of competition for players under the age of 12.

The association has reminded counties that there “is no facility, under association rule, for any competitive aspect within these games”.

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It added that any or all of the keeping, recording or publishing of scores; competitions, blitzes or events that involve knockout stages; and/or the issuing of winners or runner-up medal, trophies, awards or prizes.

In an email seen by The Irish News, units have been informed of the need for all clubs either hosting or attending blitzes to make an online application to their county’s Games Development Manager for approval.

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“Based on the information provided, this application will either be approved or rejected. The judgement will be made in relation to the event’s compliance with national policy,” the email reads.

In order to be granted permission to play at or host a blitz, units must agree that there is “no provision made to publish scores, to play on a knockout basis nor to include semi-finals, finals or to present trophies, cups etc.”

As it stands all games played at U12 level and below are under the banner of Go Games, which are intended to be non-competitive.

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The guidelines apply to all games organised through county, club and school.

It hasn’t been uncommon, however, to still find blitzes for children under-12 that have competitive elements involved.

Those practices are now likely to completely cease in light of the proposed clampdown, meaning that any blitzes or events involving U12 players can no longer include any form of score-keeping or competitive, knockout element, with no finals, winners or losers.

The move is likely to reignite the debate over whether there should be facility for competition at a younger age grade than currently.

Go Games were implemented a number of years ago by the GAA to stifle what it felt was a growing practice of teams nurturing the best and neglecting the rest.

“This has contributed to adult training and playing conditions being imposed on young players. Training and competition are geared for outcome and not for the process of development,” reads an introductory section on Go Games at the GAA’s official website.

“For children’s games, coaches must reassess the balance between the need to win games and cups versus the need to develop players and recognise the importance of fair play; i.e., provide full participation within an environment where participants are encouraged to achieve their full potential.”