Fine Gael general election candidate Pa O’Driscoll has welcomed the publication of the National Sports Policy, which will guide the promotion and development of sports in Ireland up to 2027. The Policy aims to increase participation in sports, increase support for high performance athletes, and improve governance across the sporting sector.
The doubling of funding to €220 million over the lifetime of the plan is to be welcomed, so that Ireland is in a position to support more athletes who are competing on the international stage. The main benefit of the policy however is the prioritisation of increasing participation rates in sports. In the current climate where concerns are being raised about physical and mental health, this has the potential to bring positive benefits to the wider population.
The Sports Policy has the aim of increasing participation from 43% of the population to 50% by 2027, the equivalent of an extra 260,000 people participating in sport. There is plenty of evidence that participation rates in sports and physical activity fall as young people move from primary to post-primary school, and then as they progress through post-primary school. This is more pronounced among girls, children with a disability, and children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is only right that there should be an overarching national policy to address this.
One of the commitments within the Sports Policy is to run the Sports Capital Programme in each year of the policy. This is an important commitment to ensure that local clubs and organisations have the capacity to allow more people to engage in sporting activities. Last year there were nearly 200 clubs and organisations in Cork successful in their application for funding of capital projects. Many local sports clubs and community organisations in this locality have benefited from the Sports Capital Programme since it was reintroduced in 2012. It is important that local efforts to provide for team sports and individual physical activity is supported by national government.
You can access the National Sports Policy here