Lee Chin, a full-time hurler with Wexford, has admitted he supports the idea of a special allowance for inter-county players, though claims it won’t happen anytime soon.
A report commissioned by the GAA but yet to be published, entitled ‘Towards 2034 — the 150th anniversary of the GAA’, recommends a “defined and agreed allowance” for senior county players and managers.
The contents of the report were leaked last month and have begun a fresh conversation about whether players should be financially rewarded.
Wexford talisman Chin said he is effectively a full-time hurler and took the decision to do so as he didn’t believe he could reach his sporting peak while balancing a day job.
The 25-year-old last worked full time three years ago and said he is partly supported by three separate sponsorship deals he has struck.
Chin said he was aware of the leaked report and the proposal for an allowance for players. He confirmed he would support it.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” said Chin, speaking at the launch of the Leinster GAA Beko Club Bua award scheme. “I’d imagine if any of you (media) were asked if you wanted a pay rise in your jobs, you’d say yes.
“This is not our job, it’s our hobby and we love it. The GAA was never built on the fact that players get paid and everyone that goes into the game understands that and knows that but, in the future, if there were players to be compensated for their efforts, I don’t think any player would object to it. It could be a decent idea in the future to help guys out financially.”
Chin said discussions do take place among county players about what the GAA landscape would look like if they were paid.
“Among players you have chats, you fantasise about professionalism of a sport,” said Chin.
“Obviously it does come up, it’s a topic. You look at the likes of professional players in England, or in the Championship in England, and you see the lifestyles that they are able to have because of their financial position. You would almost compare yourself to an athlete like that at times and wonder how you would fit into that world in terms of fitness levels or commitment and attitude. You kind of compare yourself to other sportspeople and say, ‘What if?’”
Chin received an insight into the life of a professional athlete when he had a stint at ice-hockey in Vancouver for a reality TV show last year. He also played for Wexford Youths in the League of Ireland as recently as late 2016.
He is committed to hurling with Wexford now and the former dual county player said he won’t be playing club football this summer.
Chin, whose family run the Chin Can Cook Chinese, said he has no plans to return to the workplace soon.
“I haven’t really got a time limit on it at the moment,” he said.
“I’d obviously be looking at doing something down the line, I just don’t know what that is yet. I feel that when I get into something, I’m going to be doing it for the long haul instead of for a year or two.
“I have three (sponsors). They would be Fulfil Nutrition, I recently signed with O’Neills sportswear, and also with a sports drink from the UK, iPRO Sport.”
Chin receives a payment from the companies. “Well yeah, of course I am on a retainer with them,” he said, explaining that all three companies approached him.
Many county players have turned to teaching to aid their GAA careers while iconic figures such as TJ Reid, Andy Moran, and Chin’s colleague Conor McDonald have enjoyed spikes in form after opening gyms.
“A lot of guys are just trying to be happy, trying to find a happy medium in their careers and sporting lives,” said Chin.
“If a guy is generally happy off the field in terms of the work he is doing, he’ll generally be happy on the field and if he’s performing on the field you can bet your life that he’s happy off the field.”
Meanwhile, Dublin footballer Ciaran Kilkenny, a talented dual player for Dublin at underage level, has effectively ruled out ever hurling for the county seniors.
“This is my seventh year with the football, I’m completely immersed with this group now,” said Kilkenny, who wasn’t contacted by new Dublin hurling manager Pat Gilroy last winter.
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