Introducing the first column from our man Nelson. A pillar of the Meath sporting community;

This week the Government goes AWOL again!

 

The announcement that sports fixtures have to be played behind closed doors will have come as a shock to many.

We’ve seen  footage of people acting foolishly in bars and heard stories of working conditions in Covid-19 hotspots around the midlands. Yet the latest round of restrictions seems to be going around the real issues in play here and going after one of the few social events people have available to go and watch in their community.

Now we all know the seriousness of this virus, and I am by no means playing down that we all need to do our part. But let’s do the maths with these figures. Some say 1 metre social distancing is enough, but we’ll be generous and say supporters should be 2 metres apart.

The average GAA pitch is 140 metres long and 90 metres wide. This gives us a 460 metre rectangle – and we’re not even talking about depth here – which would be 230 spectators, spaced out, sorry that should read socially distanced, we don’t need the GAA to start drug testing the supporters as well as the players! and watching a game.

Now we’ve seen spectators limited to 110 between 2 sides which is farcical to begin with, and now we’re told nobody at all can come to watch a game of football.

The GAA have rightly come out and released a strong statement seeking the empirical evidence behind the government’s decision to restrict supporter’s access. We must learn to live with this virus. Taking away people’s ability to go down the field, watch an under14’s game or watch the seniors train and chat to locals and socialise in a big open area is not the solution to the outbreaks we’ve seen pop up around the country.

The contradiction in the rules makes it feel like these restrictions were rushed with little know-how as to how the GAA operates. Local volunteers have worked tirelessly and selflessly over the last 6 months, appointing COVID Supervisors and ensuring everyone is playing and watching in a safe environment.

The GAA is always there for its communities, offering support for more vulnerable members of society. This is not entitled GAA supporters thinking they have a right to watch their local team no matter what’s going on in the world. This is people literally sitting at home, out of work in a lot of cases, looking forward to the weekend to see their family or friends play a game of football for an hour.

Instead we’re sitting watching the news on our tellies or phones. “Oh look, there’s another factory with 5 cases, people in terrible working and living conditions”. The government could have come out and held their hands up and said we’ve gotten this wrong. Some things will need to change, and we will change them – but no.

You play GAA for the love of representing your parish. What’s the point if your parish isn’t there to see it.

Until next time

Nelson