Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Sport, Kevin O’Keeffe TD said that it is great news that news that former captain and manager Mick McCarthy has been appointed as the new manager of the Irish soccer team.

Deputy O’Keeffe said that “All of us hope that his second term at the helm will be as successful as his first. Additionally, I believe that the appointment of Stephen Kenny as our new U21 Manager will ensure a strong link between underage structure and the senior team. His knowledge of grassroots football in Ireland will be important in ensuring that a new approach will be taken in attracting young children to play soccer at school and club level across the country.

“Soccer is no different to many other sports in the fact that many genuine challenges are faced with regards to enticing young children to take up and participate in all sports from a young age.

“The FAI’s role in supporting young people to get involved in soccer, as demonstrated during the very successful Festival of Football held in Cork this year, must be rolled out nationally.

“It is expected that the FAI will appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism & Sport. I have suggested in my role as Vice Chair of that they should attend the Committee that has been earmarked to take place in the New Year in Cork. This meeting will focus on the proposed development of the FAI Munster Centre of Excellence Academy which will be located in Glanmire and which will be dependent on Government funding.

“We need to hear from the FAI, just like other National Governing Bodies of sports, as to how they will support more young people to take part in the game. International success comes back strong underage structures

“The Government must support National Governing Bodies (NGBS) such as the FAI in rolling out quality underage activities. Grassroots sport must be more than fancy graphs and charts that Ministers put out on social media. They need to also listen to the views and suggestions of NGBs when developing national strategies,” concluded O’Keeffe.