Hector Ó'hEochagáin joined OTB AM this morning to chat about the bright new outlook for sport participation in this country, with lockdown restrictions set to ease in the coming weeks.
The broadcaster and host of The Tommy and Hector Podcast with Laurita Blewitt spoke with Adrian and Eoin about how crucial mentally it is for so many young people to be back playing sport.
And although he is an underage GAA coach himself, he was keen to stress the need for other sports not to be left behind.
"We're back in little ways. This week we got back training with the GAA... teenagers were lost in this second lockdown. For any teenager getting back playing any sport... we need to make sure that all sports are catered for here.
"The GAA is important, yes it's important in every parish. But so is showjumping, and table tennis, and kung-fu, and judo, and badminton, and all the million other activities that teenagers do in this country.
"We need to make sure all teenagers are back playing, whatever sport they're playing. The GAA isn't the be-all and end-all, but to see the lads that I'm training in under-17s going looking for footballs at about quarter to seven last Tuesday on the pitch in Claregalway...
"...To hear the interaction [and] to see some of them trying to kick it 50 yards over the bar... it was just great to hear that laughter, that banter and the camaraderie between a group of 16- and 17-year-old lads who hadn't seen each other for months."
Hector also spoke about the importance of manners, and how hearing gratitude from young players can mean so much to volunteer coaches.
"When they come up and say 'thanks' after it... I'll climb Croagh Patrick 20 times a day if I get that 'thank you' at the end of a session."@hectorirl on how manners go a long way for GAA volunteers 🙏
FULL CHAT: https://t.co/84vILruDOd pic.twitter.com/9u2TkDYuEv
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) April 30, 2021
"Yes, winning is important... but I really feel if we can develop them as positive, young people that when they're together - that camaraderie, that bond, when they look to their right and left, they're the two lads they were in national school with.
"I just love hearing laughter on the pitch. I love seeing them enjoy the drills, the session, and when they come up and say thanks after it, and they're still saying thanks at 16 and 17 - if you have manners and respect going through any part of your career in sport or in work - if you have manners it gets you an awful long way.
"It still is a lovely thing, when a 16- or 17-year-old comes up after the session and says thanks. Because we're all doing it for the love of the game, we're all there as volunteers. We're there because we love it, and we think it will benefit the people in our parish and in our club.
"So when they say thank you, it's just, I'll climb Croagh Patrick 20 times a day if I get that thank you at the end of a session and they've enjoyed it."
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