Almost half of all juvenile GAA clubs in Munster are finding it difficult to recruit volunteers and coaches to assist with club activity.
The finding is included in a detailed Munster GAA report focused on the return on coaching investment across the province. The 69-page report highlights that for every €1 invested in GAA coaching in Munster, there is a return on investment of nearly €17.
Of the 422 juvenile clubs in the province, 366 responded to this Munster GAA survey, with 42% stating they face an above-average level of difficulty in recruiting new volunteers, mentors, and coaches to assist in club activity.
Nearly one-third of clubs (30%) said it is ‘very difficult’ to attract new volunteers.
Close to half of all clubs (44%) cited time constraints as the key issue in attracting new coaches and mentors, while 11% highlighted parental involvement and interference - up from 4% in a similar Munster GAA report in 2015 - as the main barrier.
One in 10 clubs said parents or potential volunteers were not confident enough to coach underage. A further 7% highlighted the level of “red tape” around vetting and coaching courses as a deterrent.
The total number of mentors involved in Munster GAA clubs in 2019 is estimated at 10,340. This equates to an average of 25 team mentors and coaches per club across the province, the numbers involved per club remaining at the same level as laid out in the aforementioned 2015 Munster GAA report.
A total of 26% of clubs across Munster stated they had experienced a drop in playing numbers in the past three years. The rate of player growth was 37%, down from 46% in 2015.
Almost half of the clubs in Cork (47%) said they enjoyed a rise in playing numbers over the past three years. That same 47% figure is also applicable to the number of clubs in Cork, Limerick, and Waterford city who recorded a fall in playing numbers. The fall-off in city clubs was greater than that endured by rural clubs across the six counties.
The highest level of drop-off from GAA activity was recorded at U14 level, with 29% stopping at this age. A quarter of respondents stated they finished playing at U12. Almost one-third of respondents stopped at either U16 or minor.
Among those who no longer play Gaelic Games, a quarter suggested more game time for players to improve retention rates as players progress through the age groups.
The study, carried out by Repucon Consulting, found that for every €1 invested in GAA coaching in Munster, there is a return on investment of nearly €17, an increase from €12 in 2011 and €15 in 2015. This means that the total value generated in 2019 as a result of the €1.7 million spend by Munster GAA Games Development was €30 million.
The most valued outcomes of a child’s participation in GAA activity are general wellbeing, personal development, and health benefits, while 91% rate mental health as the most important benefit of GAA participation.
The weekly coaching value lost during the Covid-19 lockdown was €610k across Munster's 422 juvenile clubs, who, in normal circumstances, cater for 58,538 underage players.
Reflecting on the report, Munster GAA Chairman Liam Lenihan said: “Having such rich data at our disposal will help our Coaching and Games team to continue focusing their efforts in the right places to further enhance the social capital of all those children that we facilitate through GAA coaching in the province.”