Club Players Association Statement on official launch of the association, in Ballyboden St. Endas GAA Club.
1.1 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.
1.2 The comments come from reserve players, junior players, retired players, managers, concerned parents, county players. Of all ages.
1.3 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.
1.4 Looking to the future, to our underage players, if we don’t look after the club and the club jersey and leave it in a better place, there won’t be a club jersey for our u12s, 14s, and 16s to aspire to.
1.5 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, and recover in a balanced fixture programme. Our main focus is to fix the fixtures.
1.6 Our games are a vehicle for enjoyment, self-expression; of Irishness, an exuberant expression of who we are, where we’re from and why we’re proud to represent a sense of our own place through our club jersey.
1.7 The County team is the pinnacle of a player’s career, but nothing can match playing with your friends and family, lads you grew up with. It’s a cliché but its true. County matters, so does club. All County players are club players first and foremost.
1.8 The balance must be restored. Our objectives are straightforward:
1.8.1 — Players First from Now On
To refocus our Association on our players, and represent them as our main asset. Adopt a players first policy, no more playing championship matches on consecutive days, cramming important games into consecutive weeks after weeks of inactivity; no more leaving players idle on county panels without game time and with no, opportunity to play for their clubs. Let’s treat our clubs and their players with the respect they deserve.
1.8.2 — Fix the Fixtures
Let us address the fixtures issue once and for all. No matter how radical that has to be, let us do it. There are a lot of sacred cows in the GAA, but sometimes you have to slaughter a few sacred cows. If it means shifting dates that are there for historical reasons so be it. If provincial competitions can be shortened, and they can, let’s do it. Let us have parity of esteem for our competitions. The winner of the Christy Ring Cup will play five games in eight weeks, the Winners of Ulster football championship can play a maximum of four games in NINE weeks. Kilkenny have won All Ireland playing four games between May and September. A consistent principled approach to fixtures is needed for the sake of all our players.
1.8.3 — Continue to do what we do well.
As an association let us eliminate what we are doing badly and build upon what we are doing well. Everyone knows what the problems are. Everyone knows there are elephants in the room, television deals, paid officials, paid managers and at the centre of it all are amateur players at the beck and call of others, unable to plan a holiday, or relax in a proper closed season.
1.9 Just because our players are amateurs doesn’t mean we have to treat them as if they have no value.
1.10 They are not a burden on the Association. They are the Association. If there are no players, there are no games. And if there are no games there is nothing. Already players are voting with their feet.
1.11 We need to get our priority right and work through the competing demands on our young players so they are given the opportunity to represent their club without compromising their county prospects.
1.12 We are appealing to our Association to work from the inside out to fix the problems that have evolved. We want our players to mobilise and have their voice heard in their own clubs. To GAA club players we say: “Don’t complain about it, do something about it.
1.13 It’s time someone shouted stop. Many have said to us that enough is enough.
1.14 We have a motion going to Congress to recognise the CPA as an official part of the GAA. We believe that motion is a positive step in both a practical and symbolic way to recognise the value of Club Players.
1.15 We want a fixtures calendar that gives Club Players regular games – this must be addressed now. More than any other GAA initiative. We have devoted time and energy to All Star tours, promoting World Games, devising new forms of hurling, new rules. Time now to begin the real work. Fix the fixtures. That affects all of us week in, week out, all year, every year.
1.16 A county official wrote in his Annual report that there shouldn’t be a need for the CPA. And he is right, there shouldn’t be. If we can put our own house in order then in five years the CPA may not need to exist.