Round Tower GAA club last week launched its Player Pathway programme, a new initiative to strengthen and develop its juvenile section as part of its ongoing five-year strategic plan to lay the foundations for the club’s future growth and success.
The club identified the development of playing talent as a key aspect and it forms the heart of the programme, which was rolled out at a special meeting at the club’s Monastery Road base last week to a supportive audience of club coaches, mentors, parents and players representing the club’s football, hurling, ladies football and camogie sections.
The pathway outlines group characteristics that will guide coaches and parents as to the level their team has reached in any particular phase of their sporting development. The pathway recognises each player will develop at different rates physically and mentally so the characteristics are not set in stone.
“Rather than compare their team to what has gone before, mentors should be far more concerned with helping their own unique team reach its potential in an enjoyable and structured manner,” the pathway states. “Every player should have the resources to reach their own maximum potential whatever that may be over a long period.”
Speaking to GazetteSport last week, juvenile chairman at Round Tower Niall Connaughton explained the principles behind the initiative.
“The main topic that came out of the coaching and games focus group when we were developing our five- year plan was that the juvenile teams were not as competitive as they could be, as in they were not competing in the higher leagues or divisions.
“Part of the plan under coaching and games was that we develop this player pathway, that focuses on skills from nursery age up to Under-12, where all you worry about is focusing on skills, not on the results or winning games,” said Connaughton.
“Then, as players get a little bit older, into competitive games from Under-13, you can start bringing results into account, though the most important thing is the focus on skills development.”
The key, Connaughton went on to outline, was making the playing experience enjoyable at formative age when players will hopefully develop a lifelong association with the sport and the club.
“Learning the skills will bring greater enjoyment to the juveniles and will support the club in ensuring we maximise the talent of young people playing Gaelic Games in Clondalkin.”