Jason Sherlock wants GAA to extend anti-racist policy to coaching at under age level
Dublin legend Jason Sherlock remembers every incident of racial slagging he received during his playing career and its effects on him.
Speaking on Sunday night on the the Sunday Game, Sherlock expressed how he would like to see anti-racism education become part of coaching particularly at juvenile grades.
The 1995 All Ireland winner and a forwards coach as part of Jim Gavin management team was subjected to racial insults during his playing days due to his Chinese heritage, his late father was born in Hong Kong.
Those slurs whether they came from a player, spectator or manager have remained with Sherlock. But Jason believes though if talking about those things can help even just one boy or girl in the GAA community then it’s a conversation worth having.
Jason also spoke about his recent experiences with the Dublin senior management team and how much importance they placed on respect and empathy and how those traits can be passed on to kids.
“There is a lot of rhetoric out there at the moment in terms of racism said Sherlock.
“I remember every situation I had where I was slagged by a player, the crowd, or the manager, and that doesn’t leave you. You still harness all that self-doubt and anger, all the frustration of the emotion that goes with a situation like that.
“Us talking about things like this, if that can assist one boy or girl in the GAA community and make things better for them, it’s worth exploring and having the conversation.”
“If I was talking to you in terms of a coach, we now talk about the components of a great player – technical, tactical, physical and psychological.
“How much time do we spend on the psychological point in terms of giving confidence to our young boys and girls, showing them what’s right or wrong?
“Like, the traits that we used with Dublin over the last number of years. They started with care, they started with respect, they started with empathy, all traits, no matter what kind of skill you have, that we can impart.
“We can also give it to our kids to go forward. Little things like that. Challenging whether we are just non-racist, or can we be anti-racist, can we go and actually do something to help young boys and girls that might need it because of the colour of your skin.”
‘That’s why I have a strong view on educating kids’ – @westmeath_gaa defender @boidusayeh on how abuse from other children ultimately led to change. Watch full interview on @TheSundayGame tomorrow night on @RTE2 from 9.30pm pic.twitter.com/Kg10MAcMxG
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) June 13, 2020
Everybody has a responsibility
Jason also spoke about experiences with referees that are still unsure of what is right and wrong and expressed it’s incumbent on moderators to give them the tools to be able to make the right decisions, but also that it’s down to everyone to have responsibility including those who attend matches.
“I know there are experiences where referees, they are still not sure what is right or wrong. I was empowered when I saw an Aaron Cunningham or a Lee Chin, they knew what was right and wrong in terms of what was said, and what wasn’t said.
‘I know some referees aren’t sure what is right and wrong’ – @boomjayo discusses the issue of racism within the GAA.
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) June 14, 2020
“We all have a responsibility there, not just the referee. It’s obvious the moderators have to give them the tools to be able to decide on what’s right or wrong. But people attending games, we know GAA is a passionate kind of game and we don’t want to take that out, but at the same time, are there comments made at matches that shouldn’t be made?
“And do we do anything about that? Again, I think we have a great game, great games, it’s important that we ensure that we continue to have a diverse and inclusive GAA community going forward.”
The GAA community can have a big impact on boys and girls
Westmeath footballer Boidu Sayeh appeared alongside Jason on The Sunday Game and Sherlock is delighted that the defender can take pride in his Liberian background when it took him longer to accept his own ethnicity.
“I denied my heritage, and that’s why it’s great to see Boidu here and to see him being so open and honest about how he feels and where he is, and ultimately we should be looking and we will be looking at Boidu in terms of the GAA player he is representing his county.
"When the colour of your skin singles you out, you look for that acceptance and for a lot of people that's through sport"
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 14, 2020
“Again, that’s the top of the pyramid and it’s a great achievement, and he will do a lot of things with that, he will receive great training and great coaching, things that he can take to the rest of his career.
“I think from the GAA’s point of view, we have a big community that can make an impact into boys and girls. It doesn’t matter how good they are at hurling and football, and I suppose that’s the challenge that I’d love the GAA to explore.”