LIMERICK City Sports Partnership has reported a 100 per cent success rate in an inspirational programme designed to take young people from regeneration areas and train them to involve children from their communities in physical activity.
Mayor Jim Long led councillors at this week’s sports and cultural committee in saluting the Sports Partnership’s success in its mission to maximise participation in sport - and reaching out in particular to the less well-off, the elderly, the disabled, women and other groups traditionally under-represented in sport.
But councillors’ commitment to the Partnership’s work in regeneration areas is about to be tested with an appeal to City Hall to provide €45,000 to help clubs in such areas access sports capital grants.
Co-ordinator Elaine Barry outlined a number of the organisation’s successes over the past two years to the committee, including the year-long VIP programme.
Ms Barry said that 10 young people from disadvantaged areas had taken part in this pilot programme in 2011, supported by Limerick Regeneration and the Young Peoples Facility and Services Fund, a section of the Department of Children active in communities afflicted by drugs.
All 10 had been trained as sports coaches or volunteers and were now giving at least three hours a week in Moyross or Southill or bringing local children to the pool at UL.
“I’m delighted to say that 100 per cent of them have gone on to college courses. These are the types of young people that would never have even said hello to (UL Arena’s) Dave Mahedy on the street and now they are sitting down having lunch with him,” Ms Barry said.
In its efforts to maximise involvement in sport, the Partnership had registered 5380 people for community sports activities in over the last two years and in 2010 registered 1245 participants in training camps for teachers and youth coaches in areas that included child protection, disability inclusion and challenging behaviour.
This year, the partnership plans to introduce a sports club mentor programme to help smaller clubs in regeneration areas access their fair share of the government’s capital grants. Without the help of powerful organisations such as the GAA, such clubs had missed out in the past where volunteers could be put off by the rigorous grant application process.
“We are not looking at big clubs which have the backing of big national organisations. It’s the city boxing club and the local athletics club who have missed out on capital funding in the past,” Ms Barry said.
The Sports Partnership is looking for €45,000 from City Hall for the club mentoring programme over the next two years. While members of the committee spoke in favour of the proposal, the final decision will be made at a full Council meeting.