What about player welfare for young players in this heatwave


Hands up who is loving the current weather? Yes we are experiencing a heatwave but after the snow we had in February and March it’s nice to have more than two days of sun; that’s your usual Irish weather.

Weather forecasters are telling people to stay hydrated and watch the sun while vets are telling people to make sure animals have water. But what about playing sport in this current heatwave?

Last Saturday evening Longford played Kildare at 7pm and the sun was still blazing down at that time. Even top inter-county players were struggling with the energy sapping conditions. Tuesday was one of the hottest days of the year and at 6.30pm that evening with the sun even more intense than Saturday a local U16 club game was played.

With the weather warnings in place for a while I was surprised to see the game being played so early. Surely 8 or 8.30pm would’ve been okay; the sun sets about 10pm these days.

To see young lads out on their feet was shocking. Health and safety has been used lots in the last few days but what about player welfare, especially in this weather.

Water breaks were due to take place half-way through each half but in the second half it didn’t come until the 18th minute. Managers had to request to move from the dug-outs to across the field so substitutes could sit in the shade. Even then some people brought up health and safety because the stand is being re-developed in Longford. Surely on an evening like that there should be no problem with players and spectators sitting in the shade.

When weather is measured it’s actually from the shade so 26/27 degrees on Tuesday evening was a lot warmer than that on the playing field. Yes I know games have to be played but not in conditions where there is a strain on the body; heart rate, body temperature and sweating. These are young lads.

In a sport like Gaelic Football there are rigorous movements to various parts of the body

and they produce heat, no matter what the weather conditions are like. Pouring cold water over the body has a greater cooling effect than actually drinking it.

When your body isn’t used to the heat it will take a while to adapt for it. Sun stroke is due to heat exhaustion that goes unchecked. Coaches are clued in to football and tactics but not about understanding illness related to the heat.

Even in the heatwave both teams served up a great game of football and thankfully everyone came through the game unscathed but there could’ve been an illness due to the weather. I would hope this doesn’t happen again. Games need to be played but not when young players are at risk of heat exhaustion or some other illness related to the heat.