Common sense will be 90% of the job in ensuring sports clubs and teams can operate in a safe environment as they come out of lockdown, according to health and safety expert Sean Madigan.
Already managing Director of SM Safety Ltd, which has experience in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors, Madigan has recently been appointed Covid-19 officer for Old Crescent Rugby Club in Limerick.
It is a role that will have to be filled by clubs right around the country in order to satisfy new regulations relating to the pandemic but Maguire has pointed out that buy-in from every club member will play a huge role in keeping the virus at bay.
“Common sense, whether it is Covid-19 regulations or other health and safety regulations, will get you 90% of the way to achieving what you want to achieve,” he said in an Irish Examiner Sport podcast interview. “You're not trying to reinvent the wheel with the controls in place for people coming back to training.”
Madigan is a former player with Old Crescent and is familiar with the club environment at AIL level and thus uniquely well-positioned to appraise the job ahead for his fellow Covid-19 officers as they go through extensive online training before taking control on the ground.
“It could be difficult but it mightn't be as difficult as we just think at the moment. A lot of the different organisations and associations are putting out roadmaps as to how to do things and we will take that lead.”
He points to the fact that rugby and soccer will have professional teams that are effectively trialling the return-to-play protocols long before amateur sides further down the pyramid come on stream and this, he believes, will serve as an important example.
The GAA lacks this professional playing arm but Madigan believes that information and experiences banked across sporting codes can still filter down to all levels across the sector as sport re-opens its pitches and its halls and courts.
It is, he admits, in an embryonic state at the moment but the advice is to take heed of the roadmaps published by the various sporting bodies and by the HSE when putting together club-specific protocols in this new environment. The IRFU, for instance, is to hold a webinar on Tuesday for Covid-19 officers but some questions give more pause for that thought than others. Madigan has some of his own. Like, do rugby balls and training cones need to be steam-cleaned or are they safe to use without it after a certain period of time?
Every club and every player will have to ask themselves numerous questions from now on. How do you get to training? What training can you do? What space is needed to train and to socially distance? What sanitisation protocols and equipment are needed? How do you deal with an injury in the age of social distancing?
“It will be a behaviour change to some extent. Getting guys to think about what's going on. What do they need to do to keep themselves safe and what do we do to help them stay safe? As I said, it is about not trying to reinvent the wheel. We have gone through lockdown and had certain things that we needed to do and we are going to try and do those again as we open up.”