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Mr Wallace again...

  • 16-12-2002 1:27pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5,643 ✭✭✭

    Mr Wallace again...
    From the Indo..
    The game matters

    Sir I don't watch much television but last night a friend rang to inform me that Liam Griffin, the former Wexford hurling manager, was on Questions and Answers.

    I have a lot of respect for Liam who has done so much to promote his favourite game. I, too, try to promote my favourite game. It disappoints me that in his efforts to extol the virtues of his favourite sport that he should feel it necessary to ridicule another, namely the game of football, also known as soccer.

    Sport is a huge part in the lives of Irish people and all forms of it should be encouraged. It is a wonderful outlet for our young people, and especially in a time when social problems are rampant. The pressure of expectations, abuse of alcohol and other drug forms, dishonesty, isolation, insecurity, loneliness, boredom, and depression.

    The rate of suicide among our young people, mainly boys, is frightening, and involvement in any sport and the sense of belonging and well being it can bring, can certainly help.

    Of the people who play football, not one in ten thousand are paid to play. Of those that do, I agree that the wages have spilled out of control at the top end of the market but the game still thrives. I find it wonderful to watch the likes of Juventus and AC Milan, overpaid though they may be, show their wonderful skills. For me, it is an art form and I love it with great passion.

    I agree that the governing bodies, Uefa and Fifa are corrupt, but they have been so for as long as I can remember, and still the game thrives in spite of them. I agree that our own association, the FAI, is a shambles and full of people who don't care about our game, but still the game at grass-root level is thriving, again almost in spite of them.

    There are over 200 under-age teams in County Wexford alone, from under-10s to under-16s, and we have 32 under-18s sides. It is incredible. In the outpost of Fethard-on-Sea, Joe Chapman started two under-10s teams. Though a seven-a-side game, he has 35 players turning up to play. He has to organise friendly games to follow the League matches in order to give each of the players a run and this is facilitated by the opposition bringing a lot of extra players as well.

    The interest and passion of these kids for the game is wonderful to see and would warm the hearts of anyone. This is the story all over Wexford, and all over many parts of Ireland.

    Last season, the Wexford under-18s lost an All-Ireland quarter final in Donegal on penalties, having spent six months preparing for the Championship. It took me, the manager, an hour to get the last of the players out of the dressing-room after the match, crying their hearts out. I, too, was crying. People matter, the game matters, it's our game and we love it.

    Mick Wallace,

    Wellington Bridge, Co Wexford