Liam O’Neill, President of the GAA, has said that shouting at children during matches - criticism in particular - is unacceptable and lowers their self-esteem. He is considering having under 6 and under 8 games played in total silence to stamp out the practice:
“We put children out on the field sometimes, we feel it’s OK to shout at them, we lower their self-esteem and we don’t realise that when we shout at a child you’re actually too late because he or she has already made the mistake and you can’t do anything about it.
“So we’re sending negative messages to them and the appeal I have made to people is, not to do that, not to lower a child’s self-esteem because if you lower a child’s self-esteem by a derogatory remark, it takes 20 positive remarks to take the child’s self-esteem up to where he or she was before the comment was made.”
Before the under 14 Feile Peil na nOg tournament last weekend, O’Neill and other officials visited schools and spoke to parents and other adults about the issue:
“The message I gave before that Feile, I spoke to coaches, and before the Feile na Gael event when I visited schools and I visited clubs was that I wanted people to stop shouting at children. The tournament was a success but there is always room for improvement and it is just not acceptable for adults to shout at children playing games.”
O’Neill was at an event in Galway where he launched the 100,000 Steps For Cormac, a charity event which will take place next month in memory of his nephew Cormac Connolly, who died of an inoperable brain tumour three years ago at the age of 24.