St. Brigid's GAA Club have been the subject of the widespread scorn and derision of the GAA world in the past couple of days, following the leaking online of a Player/Coach contract. It is a pretty extensive document, with players asked to agree to fulfill the following demands, with failure to do so resulting in exclusion from the senior panel. Here's a photo of the document, via Ewan MacKenna's twitter:
Remember a time when GAA used to be fun, not farcical? Me too! Have a read of this from St Brigid's and try and keep your jaw from dropping. pic.twitter.com/Up4fHbCesF
— Ewan MacKenna (@EwanMacKenna) January 9, 2017
In the interests of clarity, here are the demands reproduced:
- I will respond to all notifications on Teamer.
- I will come to all games and training on time.
- I will tog out in the dressing room beforehand and go back to it afterwards.
- I will notify my coach in advance if I cannot attending training or team-related activities.
- All holidays must be agreed in advance with management and only taken during breaks in the season.
- All team events are compulsory unless agreed in advance with management.
- I will be available for all league games, unless agreed in advance with management.
- I will attend all club matches (whether I am playing or not) unless I have the prior permission of management.
- I will give 100% at each and every training session.
- I will make all sacrifices required to make St Brigid's, my team and myself succeed.
- I will congratulate my teammates chosen on match days, if I am not in the starting team I will encourage them on the pitch and be ready to give my all for the team if called upon.
- I agree to play for whichever Brigid's team I am asked to line out for.
- I will go into clubhouse with my teammates after every game.
- I will wear my Brigid's training gear to all sessions and full tracksuit to all matches.
- I will be rostered to help out with the Brigid's Academy.
- I will bring a positive attitude and influence to the group.
- I will give every last bit of effort for this team while enjoying it and we will have the craic along the way!!!
The document ends with the mission statement:
bollick for late of effort; encourage for mistakes
The document has been criticised, with fault found not necessarily with the demands but the fact they have to be written down; the issue for many is the existence of the document, rather than its content.
Ahead of next week's return of the Hard Shoulder GAA podcast, Balls.ie sat down with performance psychologist Enda McNulty, and during the course of our interview, the issue of this contract was raised. McNulty believed the document was of merit, but it needed a greater attention to detail:
I've seen the frenzy about it afterward, on social media, on TV and so on. I wish that the person who devised that in Brigid's had sat down with somebody before they published it. I think it was the right idea. The amount of work St Brigid's are doing from a positive point of view, by the way, is incredible. The amount of great work that is going on, whether it's in Brigid's or at any other club across the country from a positive point of view is incredible, and doesn't get enough attention and PR. So I'll start with a big positive.
Knowing some of the characters involved with Brigid's GAA, whether it's Tony McEntee, Gerry McEntee, by brother Justin has done work with them in the past, and I've done a bit of coaching with them at underage level, almost giving back and doing some work free of charge, so you're getting to see the standard and quality of coaching, and I have to say it's really strong.
In specific focus on this...let's say, team code or blueprint, what would I say about it? Right idea. Brilliant idea. Probably should have spent a bit more time getting it right, knowing it will eventually get into the wider public arena. Much more positive language I think is very important, when you're setting rules, and setting a blueprint for success. So rather than say we will "bollock" players for being late I would say we're going to have some forfeits in place if lads are late to training on an ongoing basis. And some of those forfeits should be fun.
McNulty cited a specific example from his time working with Leinster. Richie Murphy, then kicking coach, organised kicking competitions, with the winner awarded with a Golden Boot. The loser, however, would land himself a forfeit, with one involving the losing player walking through Dundrum Shopping Centre bare-chested, with his t-shirt slung over his head.
So what would McNulty include on such a document?
We're dealing with young fellas here, so make it fun. I think it's a brilliant idea, but the execution of it is wrong. With a bit of tweaking, I think that could be on the money.
The reason this is so important, it is all about the signposts in the culture. It points you in the right direction in terms of your behaviour and the impact it has on the culture. So in all of the reaction I've seen, nobody has eluded to why this is happening, they're all saying that 'I can't believe it's spelled wrong and 'bollock' is included and so on, and that this is very militaristic. I think there are a lot of positives in this, if it was thought about in a little bit more detail.
If I was involved, I'd make sure that the players understood why we are doing this, that the backroom staff understood why we are doing this, and how this is linked to culture, and how culture is linked to leadership, and how leadership is linked to behaviours, and how behaviours are linked to values.
One of the things we were most proud of with Armagh, the culture and the values were unwritten. In Ireland rugby at the moment, one of the reasons the culture is so strong, is becaue the values are unwritten, they have been passed down from generation to generation.
So what I would suggest that there is a better understanding why the guidelines are being created, and the connectivity to the culture, and the connectivity to the long-term goals of the club, never mind just the senior team. Because if you're doing it properly, this should actually go from the senior squad right down to the kids on a Saturday morning nursery.
You can listen to the full interview on the Hard Shoulder podcast next week.
Enda McNulty's book, Commit! Make Your Mind and Body Stronger and Unlock You Full Potential is published by Penguin Ireland and is available now.
Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE