Handball arrives in Tubbercurry
01 April 2012
Padraig Maye (coach), John Cawley (teacher) and Paul Conlon with with children from the Holy Family N.S at the launch of the G.A.A Handball One-Wall schools challenge.
The G.A.A Handball One-Wall schools challenge has finally come to Sligo and it is all down to the work of Ballymote native John Cawley a Primary School Teacher in the Holy Family N.S.,with the support of the Principal Sr. Mary Richardson writes Michael McGee
Since the initiative two years ago over 160 schools throughout the country have taken up the challenge. John Cawley's pioneering efforts has seen schools one-wall handball at last come to the county. As Cawley explains; the idea came about one evening in Ballymote. Martin Golden was coaching the young players. And seeing how quickly the children could become proficient. With that Cawley set about starting a handball club in the Tubbercurry School with outstanding results. "Using the challenger one ball this gave them an immediate confidence in their ability to learn the strokes and have an enjoyable game. This was particularly true of children who had not succeeded with team games. We had been looking to find a sporting answer to concentration and confidence. With building constraints in the school the proximity of the alleys in St. Brigid's Hall in Tubbercurry, handball seemed to be worth a try."
Already it has proved very successful according to Cawley. "Only a small number of our one hundred & seventy pupils have had an opportunity to experience the game yet but we hope to get a handball club started soon in Tubbercurry. Time is a major constraint during the school day so the hope is that a club will give the opportunity to play anytime. We have a very active Parents Association with a keen interest in all areas of activities for our children, and we are hoping to get their support and that of the many former handballers living around Tubbercurry for the new club."
The Tubbercurry Teacher is already very pleased with the results of the introduction of handball to the school. "Having grown up in Ballymote handball was always accessible to us as children and I had seen how people could carry on playing long after they were finished with other sports. We were looking to introduce a physical activity into the school that did not need team skills. We had observed that a percentage of our children were not participating in team games in the schoolyard. They gave various reasons for this when asked all focused on the other players. We felt that a game that allowed a player to self discipline and take turns on a smaller scale would be of benefit. These skills could then be brought back to the team play scenario to everyone's benefit. Handball fitted the bill perfectly and we intend now to broaden it out and make it available throughout the school. Because of time constraints the next step will be to start a handball club in Tubbercurry." Cawley quickly acknowledges the input of one Padraig Maye. "The Legendary athlete and handballer has been giving up his Tuesday afternoons to come into the alleys in St.Brigid's Hall coaching our young players. He came back recently with medals from the British Athletics Championships - what a role model for us all."
Maye returned with 2 Gold medals from the British Masters Athletics championships which were held in Lee Valley London over the St. Patrick's Weekend. The septuagenarian landed a distance of 3.92 metres in the long jump and 8.29 metres in the triple jump good enough to claim both British championship titles.
The Sligo Handball Board is also very supportive of us. "With the help of the Co. Board a schools competition will be organised. Already a schools challenge with Ballymote N.S. is set to take place."
The School also promotes Hurling & Football and handball encompasses all three. "Tubbercurry is a mixed school and we were looking for an activity for the girls. Handball as a non contact sport was ideal for those who were not inclined to participate in the team games. We also have 20% of the school population from countries other than Ireland and it's great to be able to show them one of our national games."