1,726 Volunteers in sports clubs across Ireland slept well last night in the knowledge that their efforts to secure Government funding for projects that matter to their communities have been given the green light.
Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin were able to shower money totalling more than €55 million on ideas that will cost between a few hundred euros and north of €150,000.
They are spread across every county in Ireland and more than 50 sports. The figure is double what was originally planned in this round in a move which was announced in the fine detail of the budget in October and covered at the time on Sport for Business.
All the valid applications recieved during the process in 2016 were given at least something towards making the dream of a new clubhouse, a new pitch or the purchase of a brand new ride on mower into a reality.
GAA Clubs are the biggest winners, a reflection of their spread and reach into so many communities. They wil benefit from funding of €23.47 million though it is interesting looking down the list of projects at how many are involving community based facilities including walking tracks and other elements central to Government plans to get more people moving.
Football will benefit to the tune of €7.25 Million while Rugby will share €3.1 Million across 60 clubs.
Sport for Business will analyse the sport by sport benefits next week and compare this to previous years.
There is always an argument from sporting bodies that the investment of capital needs to be leveraged by similar support for programmes.
This was echoed again in the reaction yesterday of the Federation of Irish Sport, representing sporting governing bodies.
Welcoming the news of the extra funds as a strong positive Chairman Roddy Guiney went on to say that “We see the Sports Capital Grant programme as an endorsement of An Taoiseach’s stated commitment to doubling funding for sport over a seven-year period.”
“It is, however, vital that the investment in infrastructure is matched by investment in people and programmes in order to ensure that all of the new or enhanced facilities deliver to their full potential for Irish Sport.”
“For that to happen future budgets must begin the complementary process of restoring the funds for current expenditure on sport. “
“These are the funds that enable Sport Ireland and our members – the National Governing Bodies and the Local Sports Partnerships – to create the necessary programmes to ensure facilities all over the country realise their full potential.”
The Ministers were focused on today rather than tomorrow though and it’s not often that such a bonanza can be spread to so many projects in sport.
“This is a great day for Irish sport,” said Minister Shane Ross.
“When we originally invited applications under the scheme, we had just €30m to allocate and the record level of applications would have left a large number of good projects unsupported and many clubs disappointed.”
“Happily, following the conclusion of budget discussions, I was delighted to secure the required additional resources to enable me to allocate €56m in total to local sports clubs and organisations throughout the country.”
“The net result of this is that we are able to provide financial assistance towards over 1700 different projects all over the country.”
“The benefits of participating in sport are well documented, for both physical and mental health, and these new grants for local clubs will help us in our overall objective of getting as many people participating in sport as possible.”
“The grants are also excellent news for our communities both rural and urban, as club sport is a superb way to bolster local pride, affinity and inclusion.”
“Anybody with even a passing interest in sport will be aware of the importance of the Sports Capital Programme and the difference it has made to practically every community both large and small in the country,” added Minister Brendan Griffin.
“The €56 million in grants which we have announced will ensure that this excellent work continues and will ensure that the backlog of schemes which were awaiting funding can be cleared.”
“In the region of 50 different sports benefitted from the grants announced today and every county has benefitted substantially from the extra resources we secured.”
“While the individual grants vary from a few hundred euros to €150,000, every single one of the grants can make a significant difference to their community. I want to commend the many volunteers for their efforts in submitting the applications and I look forward to seeing their efforts coming to fruition in the coming months.”
The positive mood was evident in the reaction of sports bodies including the Confederation of Irish Golf.
“This is a real boost for golf clubs in the Republic of Ireland,” said Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the CGI.
“The funding confirmed today by the Ministers will directly benefit 64 member clubs and more than 20,000 golf club members. It also represents a six-fold increase on the supports provided to golf clubs in the last Sports Capital Programme.”
“It is pleasing to see athletics allocated close to €1million which will greatly assist our clubs in the continued development of our sport,” said Atheltics Ireland CEO John Foley.
“The facilities for athletics continue to improve in all parts of Ireland. In 2016 the opening of the National Indoor Track was a major initiative in the development of athletics and today’s announcement is a further positive step in copper-fastening our growth aspirations.”
In 2018 Sport for Business will host 20 events linking sport and business in ways that make a difference to how we all do such a great job, as well as producing our Daily News Digest covering the commercial world of Irish sport.