major impact Davy Fitzgerald says young people need sport now more than ever due to lockdown
Davy Fitzgerald takes on a new team in a bid to boost the pandemic blues
GAA legend Davy Fitzgerald insists that young people need sport now more than ever due to lockdown.
And he admits his heart goes out to the family and friends of a teen - who cannot be named for legal reasons - who suffered a tragic death recently.
The teen's coaches have said he would have been at soccer training on the night of his death if sessions weren't cancelled due to current Covid restrictions.
"That thing that happened makes me so worried, because I don't think we actually realise the effect it is having on our young people," Davy said.
"I was talking to a mother there only about an hour ago and she was telling me that her daughter is self-isolating, who is 19 or 20, and she rang her and asked could she talk to her and she said she burst out crying on the phone as she found it so hard, she has been locked up for the two weeks."
Davy's only child, son Colm (23), is heavily involved in hurling and he stresses the importance of sport in maintaining our wellbeing and mental health.
"That's the thing for me. It's not about being brilliant at it," he insists. "It's about being involved in something that's good for your mentality, to get you working with other people and you depend on them, they depend on you. That you can get out and be active for a few hours and you're doing something that's healthy for you.
"I don't care what sport they play, once they're out there playing. I look at my young fellow, it's the same thing, I'm just glad he's playing sport and he's out there doing it."
The All-Ireland-winning hurler, who co-created Ireland's Fittest Family and is a presenter on the hit show, will tomorrow be seen hosting Davy's Toughest Team, in which he motivates seven young men between the ages of 18 and 22 to climb the country's highest mountain, Carrantuohill.
"They came from different groups, with various difficulties," he explains, pointing out that the initial plan had been to go to base camp at Mount Everest but that changed due to Covid.
"We then thought a tough age group at the moment is from the age of 16, 17 to 21 or 22. That group finds it tough enough, it's hard on them. If we got people that had gone through a bit ... we tried our best to see could we get one or two small things that might be able to help them, bring them to Everest, spend 12 or 13 days there and let's see if we could give them little things that they could take away and make a change in their lives and drive forward. That's roughly where it came from."
Davy had various tasks for the seven lads and bonded with them during the making of the series.
"One of the things we did at the start, we did loads of different challenges, physical challenges," he says.
"The reason I did it was to find out what type of person they were, how they would cope when put under pressure. How would you cope when you're tired? What was your attitude like when something went wrong?
"There were three main goals in this programme for them and for us. One was to see was there any steps that they could take to make life better for them going forward. Some of them were very down on themselves, some of them had taken drugs and they wanted to share the message that might help other people. They had different things that they wanted to achieve out of this, so we set goals for them
"Then number two, they were very anxious to show other young people in their situation that if you ask for help or if you try and turn it around that there is always hope and that you can do it. They wanted to do it for that reason as well.
"Then number three, a reason we wanted to do it was to show people, you know you might think you have a plan, but there's always people out there who have gone through very tough times as well.
"I saw some of the lads' stories and oh my God, they have had a tough life some of those guys. It makes me realise I hadn't got it too bad."
Davy says he still enjoys Ireland's Fittest Family, which is now in its ninth season since it kicked off in 2014, and the format has been sold worldwide.
"The one thing is the fact anyone from any age group can sit down at home, whether it's yourself, your son, your daughter, even the older generation. Everyone has an interest in it, which really makes me feel good," he smiles.
"There are things coming out of people that they didn't realise they had.
"With Fittest Family, there are always going to be a few strong things that suit you and then there will be a few things you will be very average on.
"And Fittest Family balances every aspect of fitness. You are going to come across the good stuff that suits you and you're going to come across the stuff you just want to get through. It's unreal. It's up and down, the excitement with the families is unreal."
Davy can get around the country during lockdown as he manages the Wexford hurling team, but enjoys spending time at home in Co. Clare with his wife Sharon and their two dogs, Harry and Sophie.
"I haven't travelled at all since January, very little," he stresses. "I find it tough. I'm a guy who goes 24/7 and I like my mind being busy, but there's a big change.
"What I decided to do was focus on two or three other things, like for example my health and my weight, and I said 'OK I'm going to use this time to get that better' and I did. I used the time to spend more time with my ma and da, that I could go off down and see them and talk to them more and all that
"I used that time really well that I wouldn't have done before. But do I find it tough? Listen 100 per cent I do find it tough. But I just have to be conscious. Make myself go for walks, make myself do a bit of exercise. Do things I wouldn't have done before. I think you have to keep your mind busy, that's the one thing I say.
"I never thought I'd get so attached to anything in my life as much as I did to Harry and Sophie, and I don't care what anyone thinks of me about that.
"I love the dogs unreal, I love spending time with them.
"They give you unconditional love. You're affectionate to them, they'd be affectionate back. It's great to have two lovely dogs like that and take them for walks and spend time with them as well."
He also reveals that he is opening a new bar in Lahinch during the summer, his third time venturing into running a pub.
"Crazy, isn't it?" he chuckles, when asked about opening a new bar during these troubled times.
"It will be called Davy's bar and restaurant.
"I hope to put up lots of memorabilia sports stuff, from myself and other stuff. Some family stuff. I want it to be a place you can relax in, enjoy your food, drinks and feel good, and enjoy your time.
"I love to see people happy and it's something I wanted to do for a while.
"Hopefully, soon enough, people will be able to go out and mix together again; they can listen to music and enjoy themselves.
"You have to have hope we can get back to the way we where," he says.
- Davy's Toughest Team is on RTE1 tomorrow at 9.35pm.
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