Club coaching officers should be fully supported in their role:
By John Harrington
Chairperson of the GAA’s National Coaching and Games Committee, John Tobin, has urged clubs to give their coaching officer the support they need to do the job as well as they possibly can.
A motion passed at GAA Congress 2022 means every club must now have a Coaching Officer on their club executive committee, and the role is considerable one.
Responsibilities include chairing the club’s coaching and games committee, fostering club-school links, promoting education and qualification of coaches within the club, and developing a holistic club coaching plan.
Given such a significant brief, it’s obvious a highly motivated and well-organised coaching officer could have a hugely positive impact on their club, but only if they’re given significant assistance and support in the role, according to Tobin.
“If you have a very good coaching officer it really pays big dividends for the club and for the Association,” Tobin told GAA.ie.
“An active, engaged, and committed coaching officer can have a huge impact on a club but it’s really important to stress that the role of the coaching officer should not be an isolated one.
“He or she should work in harmony and cooperation with all the other stakeholders – the club executive, the managers and coaches of all the club’s teams, and even the players if you want to be truly holistic.
“And, to do that, they should have the support of a club coaching committee which should be an oversight body that prioritises such a holistic approach.
“So, the role of the club Coaching Officer should be as a facilitator, organiser, and convenor who promotes a coaching philosophy and culture in a club that’s shared by all the other stakeholders
“In order to establish the coaching objectives, the club must initially identify the resources that are currently available within the club and marry the audit to the coaching plan and progress the objectives as required. The inherent diversity and difference of each club will be evident by the uniqueness of each plan.”
GAA Director General, Tom Ryan, acknowledged in his annual report this year that ‘creeping competitiveness’ is a danger to juvenile player retention in Gaelic Games.
One of the six key principles of the Gaelic Games Player Pathway is ‘As many as possible for as long as possible,’ and Tobin believes that, led by their coaching officer, clubs have a duty to live up to this ethos.
“Each club should review their Coaching and Games policy on a regular basis,” says Tobin. “All Club coaching and games policies should reflect the values and ethos of the Association and promote the National Coaching and Games guidelines and policies.
“They should also tap into the valuable pool of resources and supports that are available from the National, Provincial and County websites. For any club wishing to amend their current coaching policy I strongly recommend that they review the player pathway document.”
Tobin would also appeal to the clubs to ensure that ‘success’ at underage level is measured in terms of progressive development of all the elements that contribute to creating and refining a skilful player.
“The pivotal role of the coaching officer to draw all the necessary elements together is critical for a healthy club and will no doubt create a lasting impact,” says Tobin.
“One of the preeminent and virtuous objectives of the G A A National Strategic plan is to recognise, promote and strive to maintain self-sufficiency and self-sustainability within the club unit.
“A committed Club Coaching Officer is a key agent to achieve this objective.”