Former Cork City manager John Caulfield was suitably impressed with ongoing development work at Roscommon Sports Park in Lisnamult when he visited the site recently at the invitation of the sports park committee and Lisanamult Residents’ Association.
Phase Two of the project is currently in progress which involves the construction of dressing rooms, meeting rooms and toilets at the site.
Caulfield, who lived in Lecarrow in his youth and played soccer with Southern Wanderers in Roscommon town, said such facilities were vital.
“It’s what is needed nowadays. I’m going to sound old but in our day everyone was out on the street playing and nowadays computers and laptops have taken over and getting young people out to play and keeping them active is much more difficult. You need facilities like these to encourage young people, and (it’s great) to see the all-weather, the grass pitches and all the developments in Lisnamult.
“When I was a young fella in Roscommon 45 years ago there were none of these facilities and it’s brilliant for all the kids coming through. We need to keep encouraging kids to play sport because it keeps everyone healthy and buzzing and anyone who has been involved in sport knows what you get out of it,” he said.
He added while Gaelic games are dominant in Roscommon, athletes in other sports should also be supported.
“With my upbringing – I was raised in Celtic Avenue and moved out to Lecarrow – did I think I’d end up being a professional player in the League of Ireland for sixteen years and then a manager? Absolutely not. If you look around at players who’ve played for Ireland – Kevin Doyle is from Wexford, Shay Given and Seamus Coleman are from Donegal – players can come from anywhere.
“Any young player that follows or plays soccer looks at being a professional and unfortunately they haven’t always been given the opportunity in terms of facilities or culture-wise, but all that’s changing. You need to give opportunities to people who want to get into a professional sport or play at a higher standard.
“And while the GAA will always be number one – and rightly so because it’s our national sport – at the same time it’s great to have good soccer facilities and great to give an opportunity to kids. Everyone has a dream and when I was that age I played Gaelic football and soccer but then soccer turned out to be the game for me,” he said.