SPORT Ireland has released the Local Sports Partnership Annual Report 2020, which highlights the work of Sport Ireland’s network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) and the impact they have on participation levels by engaging key target populations across Ireland.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Sport Ireland and the LSPs continued to provide national and local initiatives to ensure that everyone in society has the opportunity to share in the enjoyment as well as the mental and physical health benefits of sport and physical activity. The Report shows that 340,674 people participated in 1,132 locally delivered participation initiatives in 2020 and 3,646 Clubs/Groups were provided with funding supports by LSPs.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD welcomed the publication of the Report: “The National Sports Policy recognises the key role played by the Local Sports Partnerships in sports participation and how they can assist in the delivery of the ambitious participation actions set out in the Policy. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the LSP network worked hard to develop new and innovative initiatives to target cohorts of the population who were most likely to be less active during the restrictions. This work will continue in to 2021 as we see the gradual return to sport and physical activity. Together we will work to increase access to sport and physical activity opportunities for all cohorts of the population”.
Minister of State for the Gaeltacht and Sport, Jack Chambers TD commented: “I commend the work of the LSPs and community organisations they worked with throughout a difficult year. By collaborating closely with organisations within and outside the sporting sector, the LSPs delivered a staggering range and variety of programmes and initiatives in communities throughout Ireland. As we move in to 2021 and beyond, the LSPs will continue to develop and deliver physical activity opportunities that are accessible and inclusive at a local level. I look forward to seeing the activities in the months and years to come as we move toward the target set out by the National Sports Policy”.
Sport Ireland, through support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, along with the support of Dormant Accounts and Healthy Ireland funding, increased the provision of sport and physical activity services to harder to reach communities. In 2020, Sport Ireland allocated over €870,000 in Programme Funding to the LSP Network, an increase of 53% from the 2019 investment. Programme funding is at the core of the LSPs engagement with participants and allows for the delivery of a range of community, club and school based initiatives, programmes and events.
The number of people participating in Local Sports Partnerships initiatives has grown from 52,000 people in 2007 to 340,674 people in 2020. This high level measure indicates that the LSP network’s performance is improving and developing year on year.
Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey, acknowledged the support provided by Government during the pandemic: “The work of the LSPs to deliver opportunities to be active throughout the pandemic was gratefully supported by the provision of the Government’s Covid-19 Resilience Fund and the Keep Well Funding. This funding supported the invaluable work of the LSPs during the pandemic. The LSP Small Grant Scheme of €1.9M supported 1,600 clubs, through this scheme LSPs supported local clubs and community groups with the costs associated with implementing Covid-19 hygiene and social distancing protocols. I would like to acknowledge Minister Chambers and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for their continued support and commitment to increasing sport and physical activity”.
John Treacy, Chief Executive Sport Ireland commented: “2020 was a very difficult year for the LSPs and sports participation in general. I must commend the staff and volunteers in the LSPs who adapted quickly and with agility to continue to support people to stay active during the pandemic. They embraced new ways of reaching the various groups in their community and worked together to deliver initiatives and resources at a national level. Many LSP staff also answered the Community Call and provided direct community assistance where it was needed the most. Although participation numbers reduced in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe that the LSP network is well prepared and primed to promote a safe return to sport, in line with Government regulations. We are confident that as Government restrictions are gradually lifted LSPs will quickly return to, and even exceed, the high levels of engagement seen in 2019”.
Dr. Una May, Director of Participation and Ethics, Sport Ireland added: “The network of Local Sports Partnerships work closely with schools and community based initiatives to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to encourage participation. Through their local expertise and connections within the sports infrastructure, LSPs are able to identify specific needs and plan accordingly. This work continued throughout 2020 despite the challenges faced during the pandemic and I am confident that it will grow even stronger as we gradually return to sport. Over 7,000 participants took part in initiatives targeting older adults and 51% of all participants in locally delivered initiatives were women. We look forward to working with the network to continue to increase these numbers and expand the work further with other groups so that ultimately everyone can benefit from being involved in sport and physical activity”.
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