With basketball’s Super League given clearance to go ahead next week, Killester’s Ciaran Roe says he and his team mates are in a privileged position to get the chance to play at the moment.
The nationwide imposition of Level 3 restrictions led to a huge swathe of club activity across the sporting landscape coming to a halt.
But, barring any late changes, basketball’s top league competition will get under way on the weekend of October 16 to 18 as it is subject to an exemption.
“We are fortunate enough to be given elite status,” Roe told the Dublin Gazette. “I won’t say not much has changed as we still have to follow protocols but the season is only starting three weeks later than normal. We’re still able to train three or four times a week and don’t have to follow pods [limits to 15 people].
“We were meant to play UCD in a friendly and meant to travel to Galway and Level 3 cancelled that. It means we go into our first competitive game without that which is not ideal but it’s the sacrifice we have to make because we have been given that privileged status.
“The other teams and players that want to get out on a court are the ones struggling at the moment.”
He was speaking in his role as an ambassador for Basketball Ireland’s link-up with Jigsaw. In addition to making a donation to the youth mental health charity, a series of initiatives are planned over the coming year as part of the collaboration, to help players, coaches, schools, clubs and international sides.
As a secondary school teacher, he is acutely aware of the importance of the charity having seen lockdown’s impact first-hand at St Mary’s Diocesan School in Drogheda.
“Given the times we are in, there is a lot of anxiety and fear with young teenagers being out of structure for so long. Being back in school myself, you can see kids personalities have changed over the couple of months.
“The first week or two there, the kids were definitely very quiet in class. As the weeks go on, they are adapting to the cliché of the new norm. It was tough for them, for teachers, for management.”
The school had no extra curricular activities for September, something which is under ongoing review and Roe adds that absence is being felt.
“It’s quite a sporty school and if you ask the lads what is the one thing they are missing this year, that would be it. They are still getting good PE – we didn’t have to give up the hall – but they are missing sport, getting rid of the stress and anxiety.”
This summer was also his first without competitive activity for four or five years with the Irish men’s huge European Championship for Small Countries tournament in Limerick being pushed back a year to 2021. It leaves him raring to go for the new Super League campaign.
“It was definitely the strangest summer for me. There were certainly weeks I wanted a competitive edge; it’s one thing being able to beat your own 5k time but going up against a local rival is completely different!
“You can’t wear a Killester Super League jersey unless your aim is to go out to win every single game. That will be our goal, to win as many titles as possible.”