According to Armagh football legend Oisín McConville, education is the most lasting solution to the growing concern about gambling among GAA players.
Former Kilkenny star Richie Power was the last to reverse his gambling affliction and McConville knows his story only too well, having battled a betting addiction during his playing days. The 2002 All-Ireland SFC winner insists that when it comes to addiction, the cause must be treated rather than trying to solve problems after they’ve already arisen.
“I just think we need to raise awareness about this, it starts in the schools. Probably similar to many other societies and other countries around us, we are dealing with crisis management,” said the Armagh U-20 chief at the launch of the EirGrid U-20 All-Ireland Football Championship.
“So we’re waiting for the crisis to hit and then trying to fix it from there and we’re not doing much in terms of education.”
Working for Sporting Chance – a sports mental health charity founded by former Arsenal star Tony Adams – McConville feels he has already seen the path to success.
“Initially they had a treatment center for members of the PFA (Professional Footballers Association) and suddenly after five to six years they realized how do we stop people from coming?” he said.
“They started with squads from U14, U15 through to senior squads, guys who make a couple hundred grand a week but have the same issues as the rest of us.
“Education is the most important thing and if we do it we have to introduce it properly, introduce it in schools. And if we’re going to do it from a GAA perspective, we’ve got to go to clubs, we’ve got to start education from 13-14.
“A lot of the guys you hear started gambling when they were 13, 14, 15, 16. If we could get the other cohort of people who were struggling to take them from 14 to 18 where they are able to make informed choices.
“I think they need (us) to go in and hear the war stories about where that can take you.
“I know a lot of this is happening with things like drug task forces that are out and about in schools and clubs, but it needs to be done for a broader range of issues, and that includes gambling,” McConville added.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/oisin-mcconville-education-holds-the-key-to-tackling-gambling-issue-41481552.html Oisín McConville: Education is the key to solving the problem of gambling