SPORTING stars from Tyrone have added their names to a letter highlighting the frustration within clubs and communities that team sports at underage level are currently banned by Stormont due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Irish international hockey player, Shirley McCay, former Tyrone All-Ireland winner, Peter Canavan, current Red Hand star, Conor Meyler, Northern Ireland soccer international Stuart Dallas and Noleen Elliot from Dungannon ladies hockey club are among those who have signed the letter to the First Minister, Arlene Foster and the Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill.
They have highlighted the devastating impact that this prolonged of prohibition on organised sport is having on the most vulnerable.
While team sport at underage level here is banned, in other countries, most notably, France, Holland and some Scandinavian countries, games and coaching for those under the age of 18 has continued.
Shirley McCay, who is, of course, from Drumquin, said organised sport is safe, structured and vital for young people.
Her sentiments have been echoed by Tyrone player, Conor Meyler, who said it was vital that children to helped to become more physically active.
“It’s a year now, apart from a brief period in the summer and early autumn, that team sports have been able to take place,” he said.
“This is having a huge impact on young people under the age of 18. It’s affecting everybody and it’s increased at the moment because the weather and the time of year means that we cannot get outside to the extent that would be hoped.
“At least in the first lockdown it was a lot easier to get outside because the weather was good. There is also the fact that it was perhaps easier to motivate people last March and April because there appeared to be an end in sight. Now, that’s not the case and there’s a lack of clarity and structure and people are lacking motivation because they don’t know what’s ahead.”