Thursday, 21 October 2021
Covid-19: Reframing the Challenge, Continuing our Recovery and Reconnecting: Statements
There is one issue I wish to raise that is affecting sporting communities and that is the continued confusion around the use of clubs' dressing rooms and showers. Last month, from 20 September, dressing rooms were due to be reopened across the board following guidelines from Sport Ireland, yet in late October, with the cold and dark evenings well and truly set in, a number of dressing rooms and changing rooms across the country remain shut and there is a lot of confusion. I have heard reports of different sporting national governing bodies, NGBs, having conflicting policies on changing rooms, despite using the same changing rooms. There is a multi-use facility whereby one code will allow use of the changing rooms and one will not. We cannot have one rule for one sport and a separate rule for another sport. It makes no sense at all, and guidance on this needs to be given. We need clarity and sporting groups need clarity. We cannot continue to have teams changing in car parks in the cold and wet winter months ahead. Strong communication and leadership from Sport Ireland and its affiliated governing bodies could put an end to this.
Another issue of concern to clubs around the country is that of volunteers. We need to have a plan from Sport Ireland for the engagement and re-engagement with sporting volunteers across the country. As everyone out there involved in local sports knows, volunteers are the backbone of youth sports and adult sports and are the lifeline of every club in the country. The past 18 months have been very tough on those volunteering within local clubs. Clubs across my constituency - I am sure this is a national trend - are finding it hard to attract and maintain a network of volunteers due to additional pressures from this pandemic. That needs to be taken into account and we cannot afford to have volunteers drifting off. Sport Ireland needs to be proactive on this.