They have it Good – May 1997

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Having been involved in the Community Games in Galway City for the last few years, I have been given a great insight into the importance of sport in the lives of children today. In an age when children’s attention is being diverted so easily to other means of entertainment, such as television, video and computers, it is noted that children’s interest in sport and their level of fitness is diminishing. I believe that it is very important for children to become involved in sport at an early age, to gain a good level of fitness which will carry them through and be of great benefit in later years.

There are a lot of organisations in Ireland today, through which children can become involved and thus experience a wide variety of sports, and in due course go on to concentrate and specialise in a sport that is most suited to them.

One of these organisations is the Community Games, which is an independent voluntary organisation. Through the Community Games, children get to compete in different sporting and cultural activities against children from other areas in their county. If they qualify, they compete against other counties in the national finals in Mosney every year.

Another such organisation is the National Mini-Sports movement. This movement holds an annual festival in June during which teachers and children from as far south as Cork and as far north as Donegal converge on St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, for a weekend of sport and fun. Children are taught basic skills in 19 different sports in a relaxed fun educational environment. I have been to this festival over the last four years and am delighted that this year again I am getting the chance to attend with children from a school in the Athenry Parish.

Having taught in city schools since leaving college it was a great to get the opportunity to teach in a country school. The children appear fitter and unaffected by changes in weather. I can only presume that this is due to the amount of physical exercise they get at home, doing various jobs on the farms and outside on a daily basis. Through observing children in my own school over the last year, I have noticed that all break and lunch times are spent engaged in one sport or another, be it rugby, soccer, hurling, football, basketball or tennis.

Due to the numbers being small in the country schools, the children are at a great advantage when it comes to participating in games. Likewise, in the classroom situation, small numbers work very well and to the child’s advantage. Having only a small number of children in my class covering junior infants to first class, they immediately are at an advantage, as individual attention is more frequent than it would be in a bigger class.

It has been a great experience to teach in a small country school over the last year. It has given me, a city slicker, an insight into the parish of Athenry, its inhabitants and schools. Having tasted the pleasures of working in a small country school, it would be with great reluctance that I would return to teaching in a city school again.

Any teacher, who has experienced the welcome, hospitality and friendliness of a parish like Athenry, as I have, would be sure to agree.

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About this record

Written by Elaine Sugrue

Published here 13 Feb 2023 and originally published May 1997

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