'It was a godsend to be back on the grass' — Swiss GAA club among first to return to training

A municipal sports complex in Switzerland hosted one of the first organised GAA training sessions in Europe for two months on Monday night.
'It was a godsend to be back on the grass' — Swiss GAA club among first to return to training

A municipal sports complex in Switzerland hosted one of the first organised GAA training sessions in Europe for two months on Monday night.

Twenty members of Zürich Inneoin GAA Club gathered for 70 minutes under the watchful eye of the city sports’ officials who ensured that all protocols and social distancing regulations were met.

Club chairman Stephen Madden trained with the group and outlined how the club received permission to train - and what the session was like.

He explained: “We had to submit a detailed health and safety document to the local authorities in the Zurich sports office. We based that on what some soccer teams and a local American football team had compiled. But our group put a huge amount of work into it and that is primarily why we were granted a permit to train. In fact, we are one of the first team sports back training here in Zurich which is a great achievement in itself.”

The Galway native outlined the rules regarding the session: “We could have no more than 20 people training at one time.

“That group was then divided into four groups of five and each then took a quadrant of the (soccer) pitch with zero interaction between the groups.

The entire training session takes place amongst those five people and those five must remain the same for any future sessions. The idea with that is that if anyone gets sick, we then know who came in contact with them and they, in turn, can be traced.

“Everyone turned up to training in their gear, at staggered times, so that we all didn’t arrive at once. The dressing rooms were closed and showers were off-limits. You just turn up, ready to go.

“For all the drills, players had to be at least two metres apart. As a result, it was more about fitness work and ball work.

“The footballs are disinfected at the start of every session and every player also brought their own disinfectant for use before and after training.

“It was brilliant to be back on a pitch. It was not football as you know it but given where we have come from, it was a godsend to be back on the grass.

“The hope here in Switzerland is that the rules will relax again in early June, hopefully, the next step may be to allow a bit of body contact. All we can do is wait and see.”

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