The Department published its annual report on 25th June highlighting the achievements in sport made during the year as well as outlining the priorities for 2014. Minister Varadkar outlined developments at the National Sports Campus (NSC):
“This was also an excellent year for sport with the opening of new multi-sport synthetic pitches and a pavilion for GAA, hockey, rugby and football at the National Sports Campus. These facilities will also be available to the public. Work will start this year on the new National Indoor Arena providing the first facility of its kind for indoor athletics, gymnastics and a host of other sports.”
The four actions commenced by the Department in Sport during 2013 were as follows-
- Develop new facilities at the National Sports Campus including access roads and multi-use pitches and a pavilion
- Promote Sport (Physical Education) as an examination subject
- Report on the feasibility of an Irish Museum of Sport
- Special sports capital programme for boxing and local authorities
Developments at the NSC also included the development of a new sport pavilion, equestrian arena, gymnastics and pentathlon facilities. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) has developed proposals to change the way physical education (PE) is delivered at both junior and senior cycle in post-primary schools. ‘These proposals are in line with the Ministers’ priority in this area to promote sport (physical education) as an examination subject’ the report states. A committee, which includes the Federation of Irish Sport’s CEO, has been established by Minister Ring to examine the feasibility of developing a Museum of Sport and proposals are currently being reviewed in this regard. Finally a sports capital programme for boxing clubs and local authorities made awards of €2.98m in total.
‘Statistics at a glance’ provided in the report for 2013 include:
- €1.6m in grants to elite athletes under the International Carding Scheme and €6.8m under the High Performance Programme
- €7.9m to GAA, FAI and IRFU to increase participation by young people
- 67 medals at Olympic, Paralympic, World and European levels in sports supported by the Irish Sports Council
- Over 850,000 visits to the National Aquatic Centre
The report goes into more detail (pages 28-32) on the various areas of sport that the Department made progress on in 2013 and goals being set for 2014. The following headings summarise the achievements:
Sports Capital Programme (SCP)
In 2013, €13.5m was paid out to SCP grantees with a further €40m being earmarked for sports bodies in 2014. €1m was allocated to the IABA for upgrading of facilities in boxing clubs around the country. 37 grants amounting to €1.98m were made to city and county councils under the Sport Nation initiative joint funded by the Department and Irish Public Bodies Insurance (IPB).
Local Authority Swimming Pools
A total of €5.54m was paid out for new, replacement or refurbished Local Authority Swimming Pools in 2013.
Irish Sports Council
The ISC’s budget for 2013 was €43.5m which was a 2.5% reduction on the 2012 figure. 2014 has seen a further reduction to €42.5m which is hopefully the floor from which investment in sport shall be built, as indicated by the Minister at the recent Federation Annual Conference. The investment in the ISC has three central aims according to the report; increasing participation, improving standards in high performance sport and developing the capacity of the National Governing Bodies of Sport.
The Irish Sports Monitor 2013 half-year report highlighted that participation rates are thankfully continuing to increase with:
- 47% of the population participated in sport regularly (weekly) in 2013 compared to 44.5% in 2011.
- The levels of sedentary people have dropped from 13.2% in 2011 to 12.1% in 2013.
- Walking continues to grow in popularity with over 64.7% of Irish adults now walking for exercise on a weekly basis. Participation rates in recreational walking among Irish adults has grown significantly over the past five years and the ISC is continuing to work in partnership with a number of health and sport agencies to further increase participation rates in walking over the coming years.
National Governing Bodies of Sport
NGBs received 50% of all ISC funding in 2013 with a €7.9m investment going to the FAI, GAA, and IRFU to support their work in increasing youth participation. 59 other NGBs received €11.4m which helped them deliver ‘quality sport in Ireland, including administration, coach education and hosting and participating at international events.’
Local Sports Partnerships
31 LSPs received investment of €5.1m to provide national coverage for sports participation programmes and services aimed at increasing participation in sport. The partnership network also facilitated the employment of 16 Sports Inclusion Disability Officers.
Widening Participation in Sport
€600,000 was allocated to the ‘Go for Life’ programmes that aim to increase opportunities for older members to actively participate in recreational sport and physical activity, which included a €285,000 grant scheme. In addition, €800,000 was allocated to ‘Women in Sport’ programmes delivered through the LSPs and NGBs of sport.
Feasibility of Developing a Museum of Sport
The committee established by Minister Ring working on the feasibility of developing a museum has continued its work and the Department and the OPW have worked to identify sites. Failte Ireland has reviewed the tourism potential of a sports museum.
The Minister was appointed to the WADA Foundation Board for a period of 18 months from January 2013 and the World Conference on Anti-Doping in Sport endorsed a revised World Anti-Doping Code.
Organisational Capability Building (OCB)
The ISC HR and OCB Unit deliver services in the areas of: project management, governance, risk management, strategic planning, change management, employee performance and organisational leadership. A new strategy was worked on in 2013 and launched in 2014.
In 2013, 22,903 coaches qualified along with 104 tutors while 1,921 courses were approved by Coaching Ireland.
National Sports Campus Development Authority (NSCDA)
The NSCDA developed a new pavilion with community sports pitches located adjacent which facilitate four major field sports- GAA, hockey, rugby and soccer. The National Diving Training Centre, Horse Sport Arena and the National Modern Pentathlon Centre now mean that the five sports of modern pentathlon can now be catered for on the site of the NSC, the only such facility in Europe. The completion of a new internal feeder road allows access to the entire NSC site and the refurbishment of an old farm residence allows high performance athletes to now stay and train on the campus. In April 2013 Irish Sport HQ was opened and now houses 19 NGBs. The budget in October 2013 provided funding for the National Indoor Arena which is anticipated to commence construction in 2014 with a completion date at the end of 2016. The ISC and the IIS announced plans for the development of a High Performance Training Centre at the campus which will commence in 2014 and be completed in mid-2015 to allow use before the 2016 Olympics.
NSCDA (Operations) Limited
This subsidiary of the NSCDA manages the National Aquatic Centre (NAC) and Morton Stadium as well as any new facilities coming on stream at the campus. During 2013, 850,000 visits were made to the NAC making it one of the top five paying visitor attractions in the country. Over 9,000 people attended swim academies at the NAC. Morton Stadium hosted a number of national events as well as a European League meet in June 2013.
Appendix 6 (page 43) outlines the ‘Minister’s Priorities for 2014’ which include:
- Contribute fully to the Government’s efforts to reduce the deficit, generate economic growth and increase employment;
- Publish new Tourism and Aviation policies and begin work on a Masterplan for Sport;
- Publish/Enact the following legislation:
- Sport Ireland Bill,
- Lay the foundations for a bid for the Rugby World Cup;
- Make new allocations for facilities and equipment under the Sports Capital Programme;
- Develop facilities at the National Sports Campus including the commencement of work on the National Indoor Arena;
The Full Report can be downloaded here