Club Players Association officially launched
By John Harrington
The newly formed Club Players Association (CPA) has stated their mission to be the establishment of a “balanced fixture programme” for club players.
At their official launch this morning at the Ballyboden St. Enda’s clubhouse in Dublin, the CPA unveiled their executive members.
These included former Wexford manager Liam Griffin (Fixtures Coordinator), former Dublin footballer Kevin Nolan (Player Welfare Coordinator), and former Armagh footballer Aaron Kernan (Grassroots Coordinator).
CPA Chairman Michael Briody said he and his colleagues were all motivated to act by the frustration commonly felt by club players at the scheduling of their fixtures.
“Since the idea of a Club Players’ Association was floated in the autumn we have been inundated with emails and calls from Club Players expressing their frustration at the way in which our fixtures are managed,” said Briody.
“The comments come from reserve players, junior players, retired players, managers, concerned parents, county players. Of all ages.
“The overwhelming emotions are frustration, powerlessness, a sense of futility. There is also overwhelming agreement that something needs to be done to protect and preserve our games before it is too late.
“The underlying principal of the Club Player’s Association is the emotional and physical well-being of our players. They deserve the opportunity to train and play meaningful games, in a balanced fixture programme. Our main focus is to fix the fixtures.”
A motion from Wexford GAA will go to the GAA’s Annual Congress next month seeking official recognition for the CPA as the representative body of the club player.
CPA secretary, Declan Brennan, said today that if the motion is passed it “will place the club player at the heart of the decision making process.”
Brennan also admitted there is no simple solution to issue of unbalanced fixture scheduling, and emphasised the need to reach a resolution through existing decision-making channels.
“We don’t have a magic bullet, or a simple solution," said Brennan. “The GAA has evolved since 1884 to the situation we find ourselves in now.
“The fixtures programme is a mess, everyone knows that. Not enough has been done to address the issue of fixtures but other less important issues have been given prominence.
“Players want regular meaningful games, they want to enjoy our games and they want some downtime during a recognised closed season.
“We are all members of the GAA, we are active in our own clubs as players, coaches, administrators. We know that the way to instigate change in the GAA is through the existing decision making channels. Every administrator, coach, manager and player has their own club at heart.”
Tighter scheduling of the All-Ireland Championships in order to free up more time for the scheduling of club fixtures is at the core of GAA Ard Siturthóir Paraic Duffy’s All-Ireland Senior Football Championship restructure proposal that will go before Congress next month.
Brennan revealed today that the CPA have had two ‘engaging’ meetings with the Ard Stiúrthóir in recent weeks.
“In fairness to Paraic Duffy, we have met him a number of times and he has been very engaging,” said Brennan.
“We think there needs to be radical changes. Now, I can see where Paraic Duffy is coming from.
“Step by step he's trying to make small changes. And the extra-time and no replays and things like that, that's all very positive.”