New Initiative Highlights Importance Of Nutrition For Athletic Performance

A new initiative to highlight the importance of nutrition in improving athletic performance has been launched with the support of Belfast City Council, the Department for Communities, the Irish Football Association and Gaelfast.

The Stadium Community Benefits Initiative (SCBI) has been developed by Daniel McIlrath (MSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition graduate), supported by Dr Andrea McNeilly, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Ulster University. The resource pack is filled with information and recipes that can be used by those taking their first steps into the world of sport, to athletes competing at the very highest levels.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl believes it will be a vital tool for those preparing for sporting competitions.

She said: "Sport has evolved so much in recent years, with athletes, coaches and teams always pushing themselves to get the edge over their competition in any way they can. It's now clear how important food and hydration are to performance - so the SCBI nutritional resource pack is an ideal tool for all those involved in sport and will be a key stepping-stone for them in achieving their full potential."

The pack is easy-to-follow and supports one of the key strands of the SCBI initiative - encouraging wellbeing and healthy lifestyle choices.

It includes commentary from top local athletes on how well-planned nutrition helped them achieve success, as well as covering topics such as - "Carbohydrates: what's the big deal?", "How much Protein: when and how?" and "The 'F' factor: fluid and hydration".

Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey MLA said: "This nutritional resource pack is another great example of the wider community benefits to schools, sports clubs and youth organisations that have rippled out from the Regional Stadia Programme. Clubs, parents and players from a grassroots level right up to a more competitive level can all gain advantage to their sports performance from this excellent nutritional advice."

Dr Andrea McNeilly, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Ulster University said: "At Ulster University, our high-quality, innovative sport courses allow us to lead, inspire and shape the future of sport. As Northern Ireland's regional university with campuses in greater Belfast, Coleraine and Derry-Londonderry, we're committed to contributing to healthy communities through sports and nutrition outreach is of continued importance to us. This booklet is an excellent resource for those involved in sport at all levels, right through from recreational athletes to those competing in elite sport."

Marrisa Callaghan, Captain of the Northern Ireland Women's football team has highlighted the importance of nutrition to her preparations. She said: "Eating healthy is something I enjoy, and it helps with my physical and mental well-being. As a footballer it's very important as it keeps me in the best shape to perform at the highest level. The SCBI resource pack is a fantastic guide for all athletes to take their performance to the next level."

Gaelfast Regional Games Development Manager, Antoin McCaffrey said: "Nutrition is such an important aspect of our games, yet it can sometimes be overlooked or misinterpreted. As one of the biggest sporting bodies in Ireland, it's vital for us to educate our young athletes on the topic of nutrition. Thanks to the Stadium Community Benefits Initiative and the work of Dr Andrea McNeilly, this is now a reality and all young athletes can benefit from this resource."

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