“REASSESSING THE MINOR AGE GRADE”

At a recent  County Board meeting it was agreed to allow a motion relating to Minor Age be placed on the agenda for the upcoming  Annual Convention. The details of the motion is noted below and we would be interested to hear your comments, if any!!!

 

“REASSESSING THE MINOR AGE GRADE”

Suggested Proposal

To reduce the current Minor Age Grade from U.18 to U.17, at both Club and County level in a manner that creates a separation between youth games and adult competition. No player at Minor Age Grade would play Adult Hurling (Club and County). Third level competition would not be affected.

Context

  • To organise competitions and fixtures structures having regard for the player-centred, developmental ethos of the Association i.e. the principles set out in the GAA Grassroots to National Programme (GNP): Child – Play to Learn; Youth – Learn to Compete; Adult – Compete to Win;
  • The Minor Age Grade currently clashes with key transition points in terms of 2nd and 3rd Level.  To remove the playing of the minor grade from the dominance of the public examination system. The proposed reduction of the Minor Age Grade to U.17 level will mean that the majority of Minor players will be in fifth year rather than sitting their Leaving Certificate There are considerable concerns about the negative effects that sports involvement has on student performance in examinations at both Leaving Cert and College levels. These concerns are continually highlighted by senior secondary school management and Third Level Management. It is simply not acceptable for us to continue to expect eighteen year old students, immersed in the most crucial examination process in their entire careers to have any opportunity for their giving anything less than their best. The demands of hurling, inter-county and club, entering the Summer period are at their peak, precisely at the time these young people face examination of their future educational and employment prospects.

a)       Statistics from State Examinations Commission reveal an increase in the number of pupils aged 18 and over sitting the Leaving Certificate and an obvious decrease in the number of 17 year olds sitting the Leaving Certificate over the past decade:

-          In 2002 15.9% of Leaving Certificate students were aged 17, while 81% were aged 18 – 21;

-          In 2012 the majority of pupils sitting the Leaving Certificate were aged 18 – 21, while only 11.8% were aged 17 at the time of sitting the Leaving Certificate;

-          A similar situation applies regarding A levels in Northern Ireland.

b)      Transition Year Programme

-          Increased uptake of TY Programmes at Post Primary level has directly affected the age of pupils sitting their Leaving Certificate i.e. pupils are older;

-          According to statistics published by the Department of Education in 2006 a total of 27,080 pupils participated in TY – by 2011 this had increased to 32,673;

-          In the academic year 2011-2012 a total of 81% of Post Primary schools delivered a TY Programme.

c)       Increased number of pupils completing Post Primary Education

-          School retention rates released by the Department of Education and Skills in November 2012 reveal that 90% of students now complete secondary school in comparison to just over 80% 11 years ago.

  • To contribute to the reduction of ‘burnout’ among Youth players. Minor players are currently at the Underage/Adult intersection and are subject to the demands of Club, County and in some cases Colleges, which are further magnified where dual players are concerned;

-          The medical issues around the ability of a growing youth to absorb the normal physical demands of contact sport are of great concern. In 2007 the GAA Task Force on Player Burnout reported that in the past ten years the number of referrals to medical sports specialists, referrals for surgical opinion and the number of operations for chronic groin injuries has increased dramatically. Referrals are almost exclusively male, typically in the 15-21 age-group, and most commonly involve GAA players.

-          “The development of player ‘burnout’ in Gaelic games is multi-factorial. The most common cause in talented adolescent and young adult players is excessive and inappropriate schedules of training and games. Many young players, at both club and inter-county level, are participating in excessive training sessions and matches, usually with numerous teams, in multiple competitions” (Task Force on Player Burnout, 2007: 4)

-          Currently a 17 year old player, in full time second level education, is eligible to play Minor, U-21, Adult (probably junior and intermediate/senior) hurling and football with his club. He is also expected to play hurling and football with his school. Granted that all of these do not occur simultaneously, but the majority of games at these levels are scheduled from early April to late June.

  • To allow enhanced space for Club Competition, coaching and player development at youth level. Through separating Youth and Adult participation the possibilities for development are increased:

-          Proposals will ensure that the inter county Minor Championship can be played over the months of May, June and July while allowing for Minor competitions at club level to be played in August and September – reflecting a proper conclusion to the developmental process at Youth level;

-          Minor Club competition would not be restricted by Adult competition;

-          Adult games would not be constrained by either club minor fixtures or inter-county minor games;

-          The opportunity is available for a master fixture list at both Youth and Adult to complement rather than clash with each other. Every opportunity should be given to promoting the game a Youth level alongside Adult games. There would be considerably less scope for postponements etc. due to clashes at both Youth and Adult level;

-          Adult players would be encouraged to remain involved in Adult games to compensate for a small reduction in numbers of youth involvement. This should be actively pursued by all clubs in an effort to reduce the significant drop-out rate among adult players.

  • The structure takes account of Colleges competitions. They should remain at their current age groups. Ideally ‘Juvenile’ should encompass 1st and 2nd Year only, ‘Junior’ should relate to 3rd and TY only, ‘Senior’ to represent the whole school. Players should play at either juvenile or junior and senior.