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Citizenship system is locking talent out:HOW APPROPRIATE it is that 2013 is the European Year of Citizens. With South African-born Richardt Strauss already in Carton House waiting for the green rugby shirt and CJ Stander in the Munster blocks waiting for a three-year sprint towards Irishness rugby style, you would have to wonder how Robin Windvogel is faring.
The South African-born Robin is a great bit of soccer talent from the Albert Johansson FC club playing out of the Mosney Centre for Refugees in Waiting.
Some people say this kid might be away to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. He has already been tempted across the Border and is making a big impression with Dungannon. How long will it take him to get an Irish passport ?
When the legendary Kip Keino was over here with Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) for the Africa Week Athletics back in May, he told them that he saw two future world-class runners from Eamonn Henry’s multicultural athletics academy in Offaly.
The great long-distance runner advised Ireland to hold on to them. West African kids with Offaly accents would seem like a nice statement for Ireland in 2012 to make but don’t hold your breath.
In Ireland a 16-year-old kid from Lagos recently opted to leave Dublin with his deported mother, while under scrutiny from two German football academies.
James Igwilo, the former Nigeria international, now coaching in west Dublin with the Insaka-Glentoran Academy, will tell you that kids like that will be snapped up by the Bundesliga teams and some of them will ultimately end up in the German international squads.
Giovanni Trapattoni understands the importance of having good players and, when the Germans recently ran rings around Ireland in the Aviva, he may have been surprised to know that 25 per cent of the German squad come from migrant backgrounds. Germany has been nurturing its ethnic minorities by building a conveyor belt of players from under-14 level upwards.
In tennis Mariana Levova, the most talented Irish player for some years, who happens to come from Bulgaria, seems to have drifted away from the game but she could have played Federation Cup for Ireland had she got a passport in time.
There was one season not so long ago when the baseliner won just about every senior tournament there was to win in Ireland but could never wear the Irish shirt despite Tennis Ireland’s best efforts.
The International Tennis Federation look for a current valid passport and the player must have lived in the country for 24 consecutive months and not represented another country for three years.
Meanwhile CJ Stander, who has just arrived in Ireland, will probably get Irish citizenship if he remains here for three years, keeps his nose clean and plays good rugby.
There is a system and there is due process but you have to wonder how some people can pull it off while others are left scratching their heads.
Clearly it’s not all that simple, with the recent census showing just how complicated the whole issue has become in recent times, especially during the boom years when living in Ireland was desirable.
The CSO Profile 6 on Migration and Diversity, born out of census 2011, also makes for interesting reading on the subject. It states the place of birth and tells us there were 25,198 non-Irish nationals born in Ireland and 241,221 Irish nationals born outside the State.