Ireland U20 basketball coach Martin Conroy discussed the frustration basketball teams are feeling not being able to train under current restrictions on Off The Ball on Wednesday.
Under the current Level 3 restrictions as part of the living with COVID plan, indoor sports training is not permitted except for individual training.
Basketball is currently not recognised as an elite sport, and as such it does not fall under the list of exemptions currently in place for other sports.
Ireland are also set to host an international tournament for European basketball nations in the summer of 2021.
With preparation for the international tournament supposed to have already started, Conroy is hoping that basketball could at least qualify to train in pods soon.
“Something like that would be just fantastic for us,” Conroy said.
“We have kids from all around the country involved in this squad, from the north, from Galway, and Mayo and that area, from Cork and Kerry, and Waterford.
“We can do pods, that’s fine. We can have our pods and we can go and coach in those pods, and at least those kids are getting some basketball.
“If that doesn’t happen, it is going to be really tough on this group, unless we get right back into our practice in January.”
Conroy is hoping that his U20 side can get elite status to allow them to train in doors by January.
“If we can get the elite status there, that we can play indoors; these kids are elite athletes, they are working out every single day,” Conroy said.
“They deserve the right to represent their country properly, and that is only going to happen if they are given the chance to practice.”
Basketball can be played safely
Conroy has questioned some of the rules brought in to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, particularly some of the seemingly arbitrary restrictions on basketball.
“Firstly, it is bizarre, some of the rules that came in about basketball outdoors at the start,” Conroy said.
“You weren’t allowed to pass the ball when you are practicing basketball outside; you had to have your own ball basically. So, you are basically doing individual work as a group.”
Conroy believes that the current facilities in place at the elite level of basketball should facilitate a return to pods of group training.
“We have facilities now that are good enough, with proper ventilation, so that we are able to play safely and able to run pods,” Conroy said.
“We are able to run pods of six and get past that. That is basically where I would stand on that. It is just about us getting back to practicing.”
Ireland is currently the only country in Europe in which basketball is not considered an elite level sport.
This means that the opponents that Ireland will be coming up against next summer are all currently playing consistent basketball.
“It is very frustrating when we sit back [and can’t train],” Conroy said.
“We haven’t been given reasons as to why we can’t play. The only thing we are told is that it is indoor.
“I don’t think that is a good enough reason. Give us the exact reason, the scientific reasons why we cannot play the game indoors.
“It is being done all over the world. When you go to the European championships, you are in a bubble, but we need to get to that bubble by being able to practice ourselves.
“We want to be able to play, but we want to do it safely as well.”