During this exceptional year we’ve been having there have been very limited opportunities to host events, with this in mind we were extremely lucky to be able to hold the #BeActive Paddle Day, a nationwide participation focussed event to get people out on the water for the first time. This event was made possible with a successful funding application to Sport Ireland and the EU Commission for support in running an event as part of the 2020 European Week of Sport (23rd-30th September). The whole week, and our event, was aimed at getting more people active and out exercising, sometimes for the first time or to rekindle their exercise habits.

With a massive amount of work put in behind the scenes, led by Events Manager Ciaran Maguire, the finer details of the event were ironed out and the wheels were put in motion. To get as many new people trying out paddlesports for their first time we partnered with affiliated clubs, Outdoor Education Training Centres and Local Sports Partnerships all over the country to make the event accessible to as many people as possible. These partner locations held a morning and an afternoon session, run by registered instructors for the attendee’s safety and to ensure the best experience for all involved. All of the equipment provided for the attendees was also fully sanitized between the sessions to ensure hygiene standards were adhered to for the safety of the participants. These measure in place due to no small amount of work from Emer Carton, putting in floods of work to ensure that bookings and the locations themselves were coordinated to the highest standard, both running smoothly and safely.

In the lead in to the event itself we also held a brilliant event launch to announce the Paddle Day and to mark the bookings as open. The launch, held on the Leinster aqueduct over the River Barrow in Monasterevin, invited local club members to come and take part and ensure the focus on clubs and participation for the event. Thanks to Sam Curtis, Canoeing Irelands Communications head, we had fantastic branding graphics made for the day, followed up with great visibility of the event and branding for the entire Week of Sport We were very pleased as well to have representatives from Sport Ireland at the event to support the launch.

In the lead up to the Paddle Day itself we were delighted to partner with Mazda Ireland, who provided us with a Canoeing Ireland branded CX-30 to help in our transport for the Paddle Day organisation, and the work across the Week of Sport itself.

On the 26th September the #BeActive Paddle Day kicked off on a cold but bright morning, a brief gap in the cold and wet weather preceding the weekend. In total 45 event locations were holding a variety of morning and evening beginner sessions across 21 counties. On the day itself thanks again to Mazda Ireland the CEO, Moira Aston, and Events Manager, Ciaran Maguire, were able to get out to many event locations to both see the success of the event and touch base with our fantastic clubs who were making the event possible.  Across the sessions being held throughout the day the Canoeing Ireland team were able to visit event locations at Trim Canoe Club, Ribbontail Paddlers Canoe Club, Inny Kayak Club, Laois Kayak and Canoe Club, and the Athy Sports Hub. These locations all ran brilliant sessions, with a great attendance, loads of fun for all involved, and most importantly were run safely for all participants and instructors. These events that the team attended were reflective of each of the 45 event locations which all showed this same level of excellence in their respective session, as we saw during the barrage of brilliant photos of people out enjoying being on the water coming in from clubs and OETCs throughout the day. In total across these locations 1045 people were out on the water, the majority of which were out getting active on the water for their very first time in a boat. Among the locations and events were some fantastic set ups and causes, such as the West Cork Kayakers running a session in support of breast cancer, and the Limerick Kayaking Academy putting on a full Junior fun race in conjunction with the #BeActive Paddle Day, with a full day of Boatercross racing on the Castleconnell S Bend. It didn’t stop here with clubs and various partners running events affiliated with the Canoeing Ireland Paddle Day through the entire European Week of Sport. With all these people trying out paddlesports for their first time doing so through clubs and their own community we hope that they will continue to engage with and pick up the love of our sport through their fantastic local club.

Talking about the success of the event Ciaran Maguire said, “Blown away the uptake on this event. When we contacted the clubs who where interested, all they said was yes! The YES turned into a mass participation event it would not have been possible with out the networks of clubs involved rolling up their sleeves and running great session around the country.  From Leenan and Letterfrack to Villlerstown and Lough Hyne, Baltinglass to Donegal we had am impressive spread. The big thanks to all who ran sessions and to those first timers who came along to enjoy the sport.”

We would like to again extend a massive thank you to the affiliated clubs, OETC’s and LSP’s who got involved and helped in running sessions, and especially to Sport Ireland and the European Commission whose support made this event possible.