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GPA chief Farrell lauds ‘historic’ welfare deal

By Micheal McGeary

GPA’S Dessie Farrell has hailed the unveiling of a new player welfare programme as a key moment in the history of the GAA.

The programmes, in the areas of education, career training and health, will be aimed at both current and former inter-county players.

The aim is to assist players with their careers off the field to help support their commitment to Gaelic games.

This is the first stage in the new player welfare scheme with a number of further player development programmes coming on stream throughout 2010.

Funding for the programmes is being provided by the GAA as part of the provisions of the interim agreement with the GPA approved by the GAA's Central Council last December.

A motion to recognise the GPA as the official representative body for inter-county players will be discussed at the GAA's Annual Congress in Newcastle in April.

GAA president Christy Cooney said that he was “delighted to be in a position to unveil the first phase of these programmes.”

“There is no doubting the commitment given and sacrifices made by our players, particularly at inter county level,” said Cooney.

“The initiatives being launched should serve to complement the considerable investment made by our county boards in terms of player welfare in recent years.

“The aim of the development programmes is to make sure that players are not losing out in their careers due to their involvement in inter-county football and hurling

“I believe it will be the beginning of a relationship which will help to copper fasten the principles of the amateur status and volunteerism in our games, through ensuring we provide in conjunction with the GPA, a welfare service for our players.”

Farrell described the development as a “giant step forward for player welfare.”

“The future of the inter-county game and the GAA in general will be well served by these programmes, designed as they are to assist players with their careers off the field,” added Farrell.

“The contribution of amateur players as volunteers to the general wellbeing of the association is enormous and it is vital for all of us to nurture and sustain that commitment into the future.

“We are confident that by following best practice in the area of player welfare, we will achieve the aim of ensuring players don’t lose out in their careers due to their involvement in inter-county football and hurling.”

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