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When can we go out and play?

Sport

WE are now well into the month of February and still in the midst of a third national lockdown which, to say the least, has been utterly rubbish no matter what way you look at it.
For myself, as a Junior Cert student in Scoil Muire Agus Padraig Swinford, it has been relatively tough with all students having to resort to online learning over Microsoft Teams, which is in no way a comparison to the traditional schooling that we are all used to.
With that we are all spending hours every day in front of computer or phone screens, then after you have got through a long day of so-called ‘online schooling’, you have no GAA or soccer training in the evening to really detox from all the technology for an hour or two.
Even teenagers are saying it’s too much technology, not alone to think what their parents are saying!
That is what many students like me really miss, the ability to go out in the evening to our training sessions where we see our friends and forget about whatever is going on in the world for an hour or so.
The one thing that has shocked me is the number of young people like myself who would do anything to get back to those dreaded sprints in the teeming rain, the never-ending running laps, and even an extra long session in the freezing cold.
It really is the life and soul of our daily lives at this young age; it’s essential that we have that outlet of activity, not only for our health but our wellbeing too. No doubt it gives a great sense of release to people when they go out and enjoy the fresh air while playing alongside friends and team-mates.
Back only a few months ago, during the nation’s second national lockdown, we were given the pleasure of being allowed to have our training sessions within pods of 15 under the Level 5 restrictions. All players were extremely thankful for that as we all felt that we could train safely in a safe and controlled environment.
On reflection, I really wonder why that decision cannot be taken again in the current climate? With no school and no gatherings among friends or family, can the Government let young people back to sports? Because as we now know there is a low risk of transmitting Covid-19 in our training pods, so surely it is a safe way of playing and also providing that social outlet to people that they have missed so much.
Only last week we were all hearing reports that the Level 5 Covid restrictions could remain in place until May — just thinking of the prospect of being in lockdown for more than another two months is a worrying thing for a lot of people. Going on another few months without any sports training for young people could be devastating, not even to mention the harsh impact it will have on this generation.
From a personal point of view, I would see the prospect of having no sports until May as a massive disappointment and a letdown to young people like myself.
I think the Government and NPHET can make it possible for a return to our football pitches, but how far down the line will those discussions be had?
And can they start looking at a return as early as next month?
The reason I say that is with the return of schools set to begin on a phased reopening from next Monday, March 1.
For a lot of us you would be mixing with the same people who you go to school with, within a possibly safer environment out in the open when you go to training.
We all hope a decision can be made on this and provide us with a little bit of hope.

Cian McNicholas


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