Lidl Ireland and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association have revived the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools Programme.

The programme is worth €125,000 and will be delivered by the Youth Sports Trust in 26 schools across the country through the current school year.

It had been put on hold in the 2020-21 school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic but is now returning with the aim of reducing the drop-off rate in sport participation amongst girls aged 11-14 years.

It is a key period in the lives of girls and sport has fared badly in the past. Research undertaken by Lidl into how sport participation impacts the lives of women both on and off the pitch, and the factors that influence dropout rates showed that by age 13, 1 in 2 girls have dropped out of sport.

Girls are 3 times more likely to give up sport than boys. Yet, it was discovered that girls who continue to play team sports are 4 times more likely to feel body confident, 50 per cent feel more supported and 80 per cent are more likely to have positive mental wellbeing when compared with their peers who do not play sport.

Those figures should be writ large at the entrance to every school in the country and this initiative is one of the strongest at seeking a meaningful positive change.

Each school in the programme will partner with one of Lidl’s 12 athlete mentors, who are current or former elite-level inter-county players.

Their experience is at the highest level and all have inspiring stories to share and are committed to using sport to transform the lives of young people.

The athlete mentors will introduce students to the Lidl values, which are key to the success of elite athletes.

Dublin player Carla Rowe and Donegal’s Eilish Ward are returning mentors and they’ll be joined this year by Aoife McDonnell (Donegal), Amy Roddy (Mayo), Ann Marie Doran (Wicklow), Laurie Ryan (Clare), Méabh De Búrca (New York/Galway), Orlagh Farmer (Cork), Samantha Lambert (Tipperary), Siobhan Sheerin (Tyrone), Therese Scott (Monaghan) and Tiana Kyle (Meath).

All schools involved will receive inspirational assembly talks, #SeriousSupport workshops from their mentors and will then undertake a Ladies Gaelic Football project of their own throughout the year, applying the concepts they’ve learned through the workshops.

Piloted

Originally piloted in 7 schools before being rolled out fully across a further 26 schools in the 2019-20 school year, the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools Programme delivered proven results and provided schools with the opportunity to make a considerable impact amongst their female students.

A survey of students after the initial 2019-20 programme found that 98 per cent felt it improved their teamwork, 96 per cent said it enhanced their aspirations and 92 per cent increased their confidence as a result.

Those kinds of responses are impossible to ignore.

“At Lidl we are hugely passionate about the impact programmes such as this can have and believe that the #SeriousSupport schools initiative can make a real difference to young girls,” said Aoife Clarke, Head of Communications for Lidl Ireland.

“The LGFA athlete mentors are incredible role models and will no doubt provide great inspiration to the girls involved so I would like to thank them for the role they will play in rolling this out.”

“It is widely recognised now that there are significant benefits for girls who continue to participate in sport in later life and this programme will drive that change around the country.”

Since 2016, €5 million has already been invested in The Ladies Gaelic Football Association by Lidl Ireland through programmes which include Lidl’s Future Stars, Post Primary Schools and Club competitions which continue to drive awareness of the sport across the country.

“We are so proud once again to be associated with the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools programme – and it was encouraging to note the number of current and former inter-county players who applied for the athlete mentor roles,” added LGFA President Micheál Naughton.

“Whittling down an extremely impressive list of candidates to just 12 was an onerous task and I would like to thank each and every player who applied.”

“We are now looking forward to the roll-out of the Lidl #SeriousSupport Schools Programme, which has the potential to change the lives of young students, as they gain key insights and life experiences from players who have experienced and coped with their challenges, both on and off the field of play.”

“It’s great to know that the athlete mentors have the ability to make a real impact on the lives of young people. This is a programme that will enrich the lives of participants.”

 

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