Munster GAA are now gaining over 15 times what they invest in coaching, an independent survey has revealed.
For every euro spent on the sector last year, there was a yield of €15.27, according to an independent study conducted by W2 Consulting and commissioned by the provincial council.
That’s over €3 more than in 2011 where the last survey was completed.
Among several impressive figures revealed to the council in Limerick last night, provincial games managers Joe Carton and Pat O’Shea made the point that the 674,840 player contact hours generated by Munster GAA coaches has the value of €4.163 million or is the equivalent of employing 93 PE teachers to deliver the GAA schools coaching and games programmes across the province.
Five years ago, their work was the equivalent of 62 PE teachers.
By asking parents to place a value on what GAA coaching their children were receiving, the survey was able to deduce the Munster GAA’s €1.72m investment into coaching last year earned a return of €26.3m.
However, there was one alarming finding, with 46% of clubs admitting they are struggling to bring on mentors to supervise young players, a by-product of the jump in participation figures — for example, in 2015, 32,544 underage players attended Cúl Camps.
“We’re quite surprised that there has been such a big increase in the areas since 2011,” said O’Shea as regards the positive figures in terms of value and participation. “Obviously, we see that as a positive and it’s a reflection on the work being done by our full-time staff, both the county games managers and the GDAs (games development administrators) inside of each of the counties as well as the huge volumes of volunteers throughout the schools and clubs across the province.
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“We’ve seen an increase across the board in the levels of participation, which is a core value from a coaching perspective.”
Taking into account the old saying that the customer is always right, the feedback has been more than encouraging for Munster’s coaching department. Carton said: “There was an increase in the value that parents put on the service we provide, which obviously means they are happy with it. Secondly, the increase in activity — we knew we had been working hard in the post-primary/teenage sector.
“It’s a unique survey in that it puts a value on something the market doesn’t value. It’s based on establishing what parents, in particular, pay for the service and what value they put on the activity.
“In general, it gives us a bit of a boost. We’re catering for PE in about 90% of the primary schools. Volunteers from clubs are going into 640 of 826 primary schools in the province, which is huge. It’s not only our full-time staff but the volunteers who are driving it. The more players we create, the better the structures we need.”
The increase in participation has added more pressure on clubs to recruit mentors, O’Shea acknowledges.
“We wanted to do a survey where we would also be able to see the challenges facing us in the GAA and at Munster level in the years ahead. With the increased activity and participation levels of the players, inevitably it was going to put pressure on the volunteer sector and whether clubs were able to recruit and retain enough coaches and mentors. It’s a challenge for the clubs and it’s something that we in Munster GAA are going to address over the next while.”
O’Shea is delighted to illustrate the provincial council are getting more bang for their buck and servicing the needs of young players more than adequately.
“We’re conscious of what contribution coaching and games is making in the overall development of the association. If we can continue our coaching programmes, we can safeguard the basic unit of the association, which is the player. For the investment we put in at the moment, we’re getting a huge return. That’s the most crucial point for Joe and myself that the investment is returning so favourably.
“Of the people that we surveyed, we would have done a number of surveys in the post-primary schools with very big numbers way above the national norms. Some of them would have played GAA, some of them wouldn’t, but 71% of them would put GAA as number one.
“For us, we feel yes we’ve made a lot of progress and yet we are getting into areas where there are issues and we’re developing there.”
Once again, parents highlight health reasons and social benefits as the two most important aspects of their children’s involvement in GAA. Carton remarked: “Not all the return is to us but to society and it’s highlighted the health and well-being the parents place emphasis on and the amount of social capital developed by our full-time people through their programmes and what we’re doing for communities and society as well.”
The issue of Croke Park hours remains prevalent for the province. O’Shea points out Munster GAA are trying to take some of the slack from teachers who take teams after school hours while upskilling those who want to continue doing so.
“The failure to recognise GAA activity as part of the Croke Park hours has had an impact on us,” stated Carton, “and we’ve been trying to get our volunteers and full-time people to cover that. To say that a teacher who takes out a group of children for training after hours can’t be recognised is absolutely ridiculous.
“It’s probably draining some of our resources. If those hours were given towards the teachers’ Croke Park hours, it would definitely free us up to concentrate on other areas.
“A lot of teachers continue to give their time but it’s very unfair,” he added,
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