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At last, some light at the end of the tunnel for our sports-deprived children


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Children need to get outside, to get among their contemporaries and enjoy being children for the first time in a year

Children need to get outside, to get among their contemporaries and enjoy being children for the first time in a year

Children need to get outside, to get among their contemporaries and enjoy being children for the first time in a year

So, there we have it. Naturally, it wasn't communicated with any clarity, initially coming as it did through a series of leaks, and that only serves to further infuriate a population that has had enough of Covid restrictions.

But we have been left with a definitive date by the Stormont Executive - April 12 will be party time with the following available to us: Up to 10 people from no more than two households can meet outdoors in a private garden (barbecues and sports chat); click and collect at all non-essential retail outlets (new football boots, hurls etc); the 'stay at home' requirement will be lifted and replaced by a 'stay local' message; outdoor sports training will resume for sports clubs affiliated with recognised governing bodies, with no more than 15 participants in one training group but indoor club facilities, apart from toilets, will remain closed.

The last one is the kicker for all sports clubs, be they soccer, rugby, Gaelic games or whatever.

For all of them, this latest lockdown has been an absolutely crushing blow and nobody is quite sure in what health clubs will emerge, blinking into the light.

Club memberships, sponsorships and the appetite of volunteers are all up in the air right now and, until the first few sessions back are called and people respond, we do not know how local sport will resume. This has to be a worry for the Stormont Assembly.

Already, there are many that feel April 12 is a ridiculously long time to wait for their sport to resume and it is difficult on parents with kids, as indeed it is on the children themselves who are missing getting outdoors and connecting with their friends.

In the meantime, these arguments against children resuming sport ahead of their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland are wearing thin. That they are made by some representatives of the GAA in Ulster is nothing short of shameful.

Children need to get outside, to get among their contemporaries and enjoy being children for the first time in a year.

Anything stopping that - ideological arguments included - is damaging the wellbeing of the youth.

Belfast Telegraph


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