The Sports Action Plan announced this week is a blueprint for Government investment, Sport Ireland enabling and stakeholder delivery in sport over the next two years.

We are looking at the seven key focus areas one by one this week and first up is the section devoted to Covid-19 Recovery Priorities.

The budget for Sport Ireland in 2021 is more than €100 million, divided between an increase in the core funding delivered through Sport Ireland and a significant investment in recovery projects that have been applied for and which will be announced in detail in the coming days.

The document recognises that the challenges of Covid will continue through the next year but that they will hopefully lessen over the course of the plan.

“Our midset can rightly be hopeful but our planning must be driven by realism,” says the introduction to the eight points that have been listed for delivery as part of this first section.

1.1 Continue to work closely with the sporting bodies and provide support, financial and otherwise, for the continued delivery of their sports.

1.2 Engage with the sporting bodies for the purpose of informing the development of tailored proposals and approaches for future COVID-19 mitigation measures for both indoor and outdoor sports.

1.3 Identify means of supporting NGBs in promoting the growth and recovery of club memberships and networks.

1.4 Establish a Disability Sport Fund to support local disability initiatives.

1.5 Develop and implement a National Swimming Strategy to provide additional swimming opportunities indoors and outdoors.

1.6 Continue to work with the sporting bodies to facilitate the safe return of spectators at sporting events, for the benefit of fans, clubs and sporting bodies.

1.7 Deliver an inaugural Winter Initiative for Sport in 2021 to encourage and support enhanced membership and participation in sports clubs, which will aid the recovery of the sector.

1.8 Work with NGBs to promote the recovery and safe return of indoor sporting activities.

We are ‘in the rushes’ on these action plans with each sporting body waiting to hear confirmation of the amount they will be given to implement the ideas they have put forward to mitigate the last 20 months.

Sport Ireland quite rightly says that it can guide but not control the way in which a sporting body might seek to make best use of the monies available to them.

Establishing collegiality including through the work of the Federation of Irish Sport and what we do here at Sport for Business is important in creating a genuine sense of shared learning and collective gains.

The establishment of a specific fund for Disability Sport is welcome and will hopefully be large enough to engage with multiple NGB’s to implement ideas that will offer choice to those who wish to engage. There are ambitious targets to hit in terms of engagement of people with a disability and that can best be achieved by putting forward a wide range of options to them.

The inclusion of a specific National Swimming Strategy recognises the opportunity with the surge of sea swimming and the impact on pools, a double-edged sword that is unique to that sport in many ways.

The safe return of fans to sporting events has been a model for how the sector and government worked together to adopt best practice from across Europe and around the world.

Crowds in excess of 40,000 at the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park over recent months are testament to the hard work of the group led by Martin Murphy of the Aviva Stadium, supported wholeheartedly by Peter McKenna of the GAA and others, to get large gatherings over the line when they were needed most, in a manner that would be safe and sustainable.

The Winter Initiative and the support for the promotion of club membership are the two about which the least is locked in for now. It will be a mix of administration and communication to get people back in the same numbers they were at first and then in greater numbers.

Sport and physical activity has never had a more central role at the heart of physical and mental wellbeing. Surveys into the social impact and value of sport such as that published earlier this month by the FAI have put a number on our worth.

Sport is going to be on the front line of the recovery and is up for that task.

Join us through the week as we look in detail at each of the seven core areas.

Tomorrow we will consider the seven action points in communication and information and the eight in relation to funding.


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