The sport may be stalled but the spirit and togetherness remains

Photo: Sportsfile

Photo: Sportsfile

The playing pitches might be lying idle at the minute, but the spirit and dedication of the current caretakers who run the clubs in all codes is as strong today as it was when they were first set up by our forefathers.

When everything is scratched away from the surface and the top layer of all sports is removed - and while the very best gives us great days to remember and more to look forward to in the future - at the very core of it all are the communities that started the whole thing in the first place.

Those self same communities have put their shoulder to the wheel once again in this time of national and international crisis. As soon as things started to get serious, GAA clubs, soccer clubs, rugby clubs and clubs in all sports, put their shoulders to the wheel and stepped up and offered to help out anybody in their community who needs help. Delivering shopping, prescriptions and checking in on members of their community has all been offered by clubs across Mayo - showing that when it matters most, the community spirit comes to the fore.

Summer will come soon and the action will get back underway and provide us with a distraction from what we are all living through at the minute and those clubs will be where our children will return to play with their friends and run wild and free once again; and the same people who are offering to help out those in need in their own hamlets will be training the children, marking the fields, putting out the cones and raising the money to keep these grand old community institutions running and living for the next generation and the ones after that.

There is something so innately Irish about our sporting bodies, divided by parish boundaries or small catchment areas - the pride of the locality - where all that matters is doing the best for where you are from, for where your parents are from or where you've settled and put down roots. The pride of place and the homestead is never far from our thoughts and is something that we rally around in times of crisis and celebration.

The club is at the heart of it all, the people you grew up with, the neighbours that put hours into your training on a football field, boxing ring, athletics track, basketball court or whatever sport took your fancy.

We see it on the macro-level too - the Mayo teams in various codes give us great joy and pride, something to cherish and believe in, to show that we are as good as the rest and better than our perceived betters. In our thousands we go out and support the green and red and in this current time of need, we must do the same for all our people.

We've seen our sports stars encourage us to do the right thing in these current times of woe - we've seen sporting bodies like the GAA offer up their facilities to the state to ensure we get through this crisis, communities and people coming together for the greater good.

This will pass - things will get back to normal for most - and the most important thing we can do now is to heed the advice from the experts and do our bit for the cause. The time to wish ill on your nearest and dearest neighbours when sporting battle is taking place will come again - until then, stay safe and take care of those around you.


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