Jason Sherlock: Make anti-racism part of GAA coaching

Jason Sherlock has challenged the GAA to extend its anti-racist policy to coaching players at under-age level.
Jason Sherlock: Make anti-racism part of GAA coaching
Dublin selector Jason Sherlock (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Dublin selector Jason Sherlock (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

Jason Sherlock has challenged the GAA to extend its anti-racist policy to coaching players at under-age level.

The All-Ireland SFC-winning player and coach was subjected to racist insults because of his Chinese heritage and in an attempt to fit in shunned it.

The “slagging” he experienced during his playing career never left him but he is convinced the GAA is in a better place to stamp out such behaviour. He would love to see anti-racism education become part of the coaching regime particularly among juveniles.

“If I was talking to you in terms of a coach, we now talk about the components of a great player - technical, tactical, physical and psychological,” he told The Sunday Game. “How much time do we spend on the psychological point in terms of giving confidence to our young boys and girls, showing them what's right or wrong?

"Like, the traits that we used with Dublin (senior football camp) over the last number of years. They started with care, they started with respect, they started with empathy, all traits, no matter what kind of skill you have, that we can impart.

“We can also give to out kids to go forward. Little things like that. Challenging whether we are just non-racist, or can we be anti-racist, can we go an actually do something to help young boys and girls that might need it because of the colour of your skin.”

Cúl Camps is an obvious platform in which to encourage such practices. “Can we look at what we do in our summer camps with kids? Can we look at how inclusive our clubs are for people who wouldn’t traditionally go into GAA clubs, from a moderation point of view?

“I know there are experiences where referees, they are still not sure what is right or wrong. I was empowered when I saw an Aaron Cunningham or a Lee Chin, they knew what was right and wrong in terms of what was said, and what wasn’t said.

“We all have a responsibility there, not just the referee. It’s obviously the moderators to give them the tools to be able to decide on what’s right or wrong. But people attending games, we know GAA is a passionate kind of game and we don’t want to take that out, but at the same time, are their comments made at matches that shouldn’t be made?

“And do we do anything about that? Again, I think we have a great game, great games, it’s important that we ensure that we continue to have a diverse and inclusive GAA community going forward.”

Sherlock appeared on The Sunday Game with Westmeath footballer Boidu Sayeh and he is delighted that the defender can take pride in his Liberian background when it took him longer to accept his own ethnicity.

But Sherlock suggested that it is slightly easier for Sayeh to be accepted more when he is an inter-county footballer. “I denied my heritage, and that's why it's great to see Boidu here and to see him being so open and honest about how he feels and where he is, and ultimately we should be looking - and we will be looking - at Boidu in terms of the GAA player he is representing his county.

"Again, that's the top of the pyramid and it's a great achievement, and he will do a lot of things with that, he will receive great training and great coaching, things that he can take to the rest of his career.

“I think from the GAA's point of view, we have a big community that can make an impact into boys and girls. It doesn't matter how good they are at hurling and football, and I suppose that's the challenge that I'd love the GAA to explore.”

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