Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Sport, Kevin O’Keeffe has said Ireland risks a future without international sporting or athletic success unless children at primary level learn the fundamental skills of throwing, running, catching, kicking and jumping.
Deputy O’Keeffe was commenting following the release of initial data from a major DCU and GAA national study of exercise levels, entitled ‘Moving Well – Being Well’ , among young children.
“Not only will this clear skills-gap lead to a dilution of our sporting prowess at international level down the road, but worse still, it will lead us to having a population that is less comfortable partaking in recreational sport, and will, I believe, lead to a much more sedentary and ultimately unhealthier population.
“When children don’t have the basic, fundamental skills to take part in sport and exercise, they won’t.
“They will move away from organised sport, and towards activities which will not challenge them physically.
“There is a solution but it requires a change in how we teach Physical Education.
“Teaching the fundamentals is a core component of primary physical education, and if we are to improve the physical literacy of young Irish people, this needs to be improved.
“At primary level, Fianna Fáil supports the employment of specialist PE teachers, on a hub basis, to increase the level and quality of physical education on offer to children in primary schools.
“A quality experience of PE at primary level has been shown to increase the numbers of young people continuing to partake in physical activity and sport, during school and outside of school.
“Equally, at second level, we need to ensure that the full range of physical education is taught, and not just what are traditionally known as invasion games, such as football, hurling, rugby and soccer.
“While of interest to many, and in particular boys, these activities have a tendency to put off girls from taking part.
“From both a physical fitness and international success outlook, we need to dramatically overhaul how physical education is taught.
“The possible benefits for children and Irish society are profound, and we must take that leap,” concluded O’Keeffe.