Paper Authors and Title
Aideen Cooley (Technological University of the Shannon), Mairead Cantwell, “Trends in Gaelic Games participation in youth and early adulthood, and factors that influence drop-out and adherence from coaches’ perspectives”
Participation in Gaelic Games (GAA) among youth (<16 years) and young adults (>16 years) is declining. This qualitative research sought to explore GAA coaches’ perspectives on factors influencing this decline. Semi-structured interviews with male GAA coaches (n=4) were conducted. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. The results showed that coaches observe an increased rate of drop-out from the age of 16. Increased academic demands and part-time employment were factors identified by coaches which influenced increased drop-out. Female participation was decreased compared to males, raising concerns about gender disparities in the GAA. Players who continue to engage in GAA do so due to the strong sense of belonging in the GAA community was identified as an important factor which supported continued participation in GAA by players over the age of 16. However, the coaches highlighted an increase in professionalism which led to heightened pressure and expectations, ultimately contributing to drop-outs. To overcome drop-out rates, coaches proposed implementing supportive measures for players, including covering travel expenses. Coaches also reported that focusing on promoting GAA in secondary schools, where resources and funding are currently limited compared to primary schools, may also aid in increasing participation among youth populations. The study emphasises the importance of sharing coaches’ experiences to better understand the factors influencing drop-out rates and participation trends among youth and young adults in GAA. By considering coaches’ firsthand observations, efforts can be directed towards improving participation and reducing drop-out rates in the sport.