Dundalk Grammar School Parent Teacher Association recently hosted an evening at the school to discuss the role of sport in academic achievement. The panel discussion, skilfully hosted by Matt Dempsey President of the RDS, explored the theme with Liam Burns, Community Officer with Dundalk Football Club and former professional footballer, Shane Lennon from Louth GAA and retired Inter-County player, and rugby player Callum Black, who currently competes with Ulster.
Matt Dempsey explored with the panellists their school life and the motivation that propelled them to succeed at the highest levels in sport. The sometimes open and frank discussion between the panellists yielded some deep and interesting insights into the mind of a professional player.
They all agreed that hard work and a commitment to excellence are a prerequisite to following your dreams. There was universal agreement that without the support of family none of them would have succeeded.
Liam Burns recalled how football was his escape growing up in the streets of Belfast and how he imagined one day playing professionally. He remembered the encouragement his father gave him to pursue his dream and make them proud. Liam also expressed the difficult personal choices you have to make as a professional sportsperson, for example sacrificing time with family and friends.
Shane Lennon spoke about the pressure of balancing college life yet finding the dedication to train and prepare hoping to be good enough to be picked for the first team.
Callum Black addressed the issue of health and fitness. A young member of the audience asked Callum about his training and preparation and how much is too much? Callum explained that young players need to be careful not to over exert themselves as their bodies are still developing yet to watch their diet and rest before and after matches.
It was the panellists belief that participation whether that be in sports, the arts, music etc. is a good thing. They all agreed that any form of involvement whether in or outside school was hugely beneficial for health both mentally and physically and in the long term fed into academic achievement.
The panel discussion was organised by Dundalk Grammar Schools Parent Teacher Association. The PTA would like to thank the panelists and all those who supported the occasion and plan to have similar events in the future.