By John Lyons
I was in the Glin Sports Centre in Coolock on 11 August to watch the fantastic young boxer from Kilmore, Ava Henry, fight in the final of a European Championship in Georgia.
Ava is an incredibly talented young person, hardworking and dedicated too. She won the silver medal although we all thought she had won the fight.
An amazing achievement for a twelve-year-old, who will only get better. An All Ireland champion boxer who today became a European silver medalist. Fantastic.
The tremendous success generally by Ireland’s young boxers and the enthusiasm and inspiration that brings to their peers is evidence that even modest amounts of state investment in sports goes a long way. What a shame though, that our ‘independents’ in government go along with the way that Fine Gael favour middle and upper-class kids when it comes to these investments.
Last year, not only did Shane Ross give Wesley, a fee-paying school in his constituency, €150,000, he did the same for Loreto Beaufort, another elitist school. This at a time when many state schools don’t even have a sports area. How often do we see schoolkids playing on the tarmac of car parks?
Wesley College, by the way, has two resurfaced hockey pitches, along with two cricket pitches, one for soccer, four for rugby, two more basketball courts and for indoor sports: a gymn and a major hall.
As I said at the time of an upsurge in local gangland killings in Coolock: “We need a task-force established that will be responsible for monitoring the work of the various government departments, state agencies and community groups that have a role to play in tackling the many problems faced by people in the area.” And part of that solution is to invest at least as heavily in the facilities for working class kids as the state does for the rich.