These are trying times for Ireland, times when it is easy to suggest that football and sport should take a back seat as we battle together against the Covid-19 pandemic that has brought our nation and our game to a halt.24th Mar 2020
For all of us who call this island home, there are serious challenges ahead. The battle for life itself is indeed more important than a Euro 2020 postponement or the lack of football at the Cross on a Friday night.
So, the first thing I say to you is to respect the advice of the HSE on Covid-19. Stay at home as much as you can, practice safe-distancing, wash your hands, self-isolate if you have any fears that you may have come into contact with coronavirus. Work with the medical experts. And keep an eye on your own mental health and of those around you at this challenging time.
When the need arises, come together as a team now more than ever. Help the aged in your community. Look out for the neighbour living in isolation, ask if you can help, offer the hand of friendship.
Our game acts as a magnet to the community. We touch parts of the country that no other sport ever sees. That web of contact is more relevant today than it has ever been. I am one of the lucky ones. I have family and friends around me here in Cork, football and non-football.
But not everyone is so lucky. Those who have only recently called Ireland their home may not have the support network that we enjoy. Reach out to them, offer them support and solidarity. Show them that Irish football is the game of the people that now supports all of the people.
To our coaches, I say carry on working with your players. You don’t have to meet them face to face to let them know that you care for their welfare and their well-being. Encourage them to keep fit, inspire them to work for their community, advise them as best you can.
To our clubs, the message is simple. Embrace the supporters who have supported your club and your teams down through the years. Support the supporters.
All our hard-working staff at the FAI are doing their best for Irish football right now and I know you will as well. Football faces an uncertain short-term future. We hope to see action on the field again in June for our national teams, our SSE Airtricity League clubs, the Women’s National League and for our grassroots. That is the aspiration – what is real is the fact that Irish football will return, stronger and better than ever. A new FAI is on the horizon.
Finally, a big thank you on behalf of everyone involved with Irish football to our frontline staff, many of whom are part of our game, as they serve their communities so diligently and selflessly in these challenging times.
Stay safe. Look out for each other. And keep the faith. Ní neart go cur le chéile.
Football Association of Ireland