Credit: Vanessa Brown / Scopio

Louise Roseingrave: Parents speak out on “nightmare” as kids banned from Basketball  

Basketball clubs are in disarray following the extension of restrictions that block unvaccinated juveniles competing.

Cork based swimming legend Steve Redmond coaches multiple teams at Skibbereen Basketball Club. He says the club is haemorrhaging volunteers due to restrictions on under 18’s.

“We are now going into WhatsApp groups asking parents if it is okay to ask if their children are vaccinated and you can understand now why it’s nigh on impossible to get anybody to help in a club. There’s three people running Skibbereen Basketball Club, the rest have all resigned,” he said.

“It’s just one nightmare after another at this stage,” Redmond said, adding that Ireland is the only country in Europe continuing to impose restrictions on competitive games.

Basketball Ireland made the announcement last Thursday following a determination by Sport Ireland that ‘indoor sports are entitled to ask for Covid-19 Certificates.’

The news came ‘out of the blue’ according to John Dowling, head coach at super league team Garvey’s Tralee Warriors.

“Thursday evening was a shock to the whole basketball community. That you would consider leaving people out of sport because of being vaccinated or not, we never saw that coming.

“It’s like everything else in this pandemic, they just throw these things out there and leave the people on the front line to deal with it,” he said.

A teacher and basketball coach at Mercy Mounthawk School in Tralee, Dowling is also head of coaching development at Tralee Imperials basketball club.

“I can’t morally stand over the fact that I would be asking kids their vaccination status and then deciding on what way they can or can’t train,” he said.

“Sport isn’t a luxury, these are kids that need sport physically and mentally and for social skills. All the things that sport gives us and here we are in Ireland with a higher vaccination rate than any other country and we are still locked out,” he said.

At present clubs are operating a pods of six policy that means games are played three on three

“I am vaccinated myself. You will have vaccinated parents saying we are paying registration and training fees give us our money back and I can understand that. The unvaccinated players want to come in and play. Everybody should be allowed play,” he said.

“The thing is, we were told that at 80% vaccination rate everything would go back to normal. We are now above 90% vaccination rate and we still can’t go back to normal? Is this a roundabout way to make sure every one of those teenagers that is unvaccinated now have to go and get vaccinated in order play basketball?

“I am baffled as to where the science is or what is the motive behind it.” he said

Sport Ireland said it communicated government measures to clubs on October 22nd

“On October 19th the Government made a further announcement on the Public Health situation. Included in this announcement was the retention of certain restrictions for unvaccinated or mixed immunity indoor group activities. In line with the Government announcement, this included the use of the pod system where players are of mixed immunity,” a spokesman said.

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