September 25, 2020

Students struggle to combine study and top-level sport

Third level students are finding it difficult to combine their college work with sport at a high level, a survey has found.

It was conducted by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) which represents inter-county players.

One in three of its members are third-level students, including many at Waterford Institute of Technology.

The survey reveals that they are struggling to manage the demands of being an inter-county player alongside their academic commitments and personal lives.

The GPA Student Report 2019 found that 83% of the students surveyed are playing with at least three teams; 70% travel home for training three or more times per week and 81% take part in social activities less than most other people their age .

On the academic front it found that:

*5% of GPA students had to repeat a college exam; 11% had to repeat an entire academic year

*65% feel their training negatively affects their academic performance

*54% don’t receive supports from their college if they are under pressure

*48% feel more like an inter-county player than a student trying to achieve a degree.

More than half (54%) of student inter-county players said they regularly feel overwhelmed by their commitments and 62% said they find it difficult to manage all of the commitments associated with being a student and an athlete.

In response to the problems, the GPA has decided to include a mental health literacy workshop as part of a new suite of programmes it will offer to inter-county squads. And all GPA staff and service providers will now take part in a mental health training workshop and a gambling awareness workshop.

The GPA is developing a new financial information and advice programme to help members with financial planning and is to review the current expenses model.

Unveiling the report, Paul Flynn, Chief Executive of the GPA, said many students derived benefits from inter-county sport.

“We know for a fact that 93% of student inter-county players who engaged with the GPA’s Player Development Programme say it has assisted them in their off-field lives, and equipped them to better manage the demands of this dual-lifestyle,” he said.

“ We firmly believe that the execution of our key recommendations alongside the ongoing support of the GPA’s Player Development Programme can help student inter-county players perform to their personal best in both their on-field and off-field lives.”

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