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Kieran Donaghy is on a journey to shine a light on the work of the Super Games Centres, an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA.
Kieran Donaghy is on a journey to shine a light on the work of the Super Games Centres, an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA.

Kieran Donaghy a fan of GAA Super Games Centres


Three-time All-Star and four-time All-Ireland winner, Kieran Donaghy, is this year leading an important GAA initiative in partnership with Sky Sports. The Kerry man is on a journey to shine a light on the work of the Super Games Centres, an initiative which aims to keep young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen playing GAA. It’s an initiative which is close to Kieran’s heart after he himself stepped away from the game at the age of fifteen for almost two years.

From this Wednesday (19th June), as part of the GAA Championship Review Show (Wednesdays at 9pm on Sky Sports Arena), Kieran will be exploring the various factors contributing to youth dropout in the sport and more importantly, discussing what can be done about it.

On this week’s show, Kieran chats to underage coach and Clare legend, Jamesie O’Connor, before visiting his first ever Super Games Centre in Colaiste Eoin, Carlow on next week’s programme.

Speaking about his involvement in the initiative, Kieran said: “The Super Games Centres encourage teenagers to stick with the sport through player empowerment and a focus on fun and participation over winning. It takes the stress and the competitive element away, which is why I think it’s so important. Teenagers today face enough pressures without feeling stressed on the pitch too.

“A lot of teenagers today aren’t having fun and probably aren’t getting a game. I was one of these kids. I fell out of love with GAA and almost didn’t find my way back, but I’m living proof that you can re-focus your mindset. For me, I had to start enjoying it before I could really develop my skillset as a player.”

The GAA Super Games Centres is one of three initiatives that Sky is supporting as part of its continued investment of €3m in Grassroots GAA over five years. As well as providing equipment and kits for the SGC centres, Sky also supports Super Games nationwide with ambassador visits. Previous ambassadors that have supported the Super Games include Conor McManus, TJ Reid, Con O’Callaghan, Jonny Cooper, Paul Geaney, Carla Roe and Joe Canning.

Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres; Colaiste Eoin in Carlow alongside Carlow footballer Paul Broderick, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast alongside Antrim hurling star Neil McManus and De La Salle College in Waterford under former Waterford manager Derek McGrath and alongside Waterford captain Noel Connors. Kieran will conclude his journey with a visit to Na Fianna in Dublin to see how, at club level, they are also trying to fight teen drop off and how the concept of the Super Games Centres and its values can be reflected at club level.

Tune into the Championship Review this Wednesday at 9pm on Sky Sports Arena as Kieran begins his Super Games Centre journey.

Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres - Colaiste Eoin in Carlow, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast and De La Salle College in Waterford.
Over the course of five weeks Kieran will visit three Super Games Centres - Colaiste Eoin in Carlow, St Mary’s Grammar School in Belfast and De La Salle College in Waterford.

About the GAA Super Games Centres

Super Games Centres were developed in 2013 to respond to a 58% drop out rate from Gaelic Games in youth players between the ages of 12-22 yrs. The dropout rate has now been reduced to 49% (2017). Research has indicated that this is in line with youth sports drop out trends worldwide which range from 30-55%.

In 2018, 32,276 youth players (12-17 yr olds) participated in Super Games Centres across GAA Clubs & Post Primary Schools.

The ambition is to increase this number to over 36,000 by 2020.

The National Games Development Department has initiated a number of best practice projects, which have had a pioneering impact on the promotion of Gaelic Games. These include: the Go Games, Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps, Bank of Ireland Celtic Challenge, the 5 Star 🌟 Centre (Primary Schools), NRG Hub (Post-Primary Schools) and the Renault GAA World Games.

Super Games Centres are another ground-breaking initiative and these are structured to ensure that the biggest possible number of Youth players are provided with an informal series of playing opportunities of a developmental nature. The response from Youth players has been very positive and there is now a growing acceptance that Super Games Centres have a key role in ensuring that young people “Play to Stay with the GAA”.

Super Games Centres’ focus on 6 'Play to Stay' Values which are promoted through involvement & participation:

  1. Positive Feedback - All communications are positive and promote growth.
  2. Effort - Effort and physical fitness are promoted.
  3. Belonging - Every player feels connected to the GAA.
  4. Enjoyment - Players have fun.
  5. Empowerment - Players shape and own their own games experience.
  6. Respect - Everyone has due regard for each other’s feelings and rights.

Reasons indicated to the GAA why youth players drop out of Gaelic Games are:

  1. Focus is too competitive and too much emphasis is placed on winning/success.
  2. Players get little or no game time.
  3. Players don't get selected for teams.
  4. Lack of a developmental ethos (culture is on keeping the best and ignoring the rest).
  5. Lack of adequate games opportunities for youth players i.e. emphasis on competitive structures and absence of a regular meaningful games programme.
  6. Players having negative experiences (which is a combination of the reasons above).

Benefits of Super Games Centres:

  1. Small sided games.
  2. Everyone gets to play and gets game time.
  3. Games are organised by young people for young people.
  4. Emphasis is on playing games rather than drills or training.
  5. Fun and social element to games (players/teams are mixed up, so players can end up playing with players they don't know/are from other clubs or counties/are of different ability levels).
  6. Involvement in Super Games doesn't demand competition level commitments.

For more information on the GAA Super Games Centres in partnership with Sky Sports, visit www.gaa.ie/supergamescentres

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