30/06/2004

Lottery cash boost to help NI communities get active

Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities are set to get more active thanks to an innovative Community Sport Programme from the Big Lottery Fund and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland.

The programme, which aims to kick-start initiatives promoting sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities, will see additional Community Sport Development Officers appointments across the province thanks to a £2.4 million cash injection.

Diarmuid McAuley, facility development manager at the Waterworks, said funding from the Sports Council in the past helped bring young people from interface areas together and boost the health of local people.

He added: “The funding has allowed us to try out some innovative sports activities such as the crime diversion soccer coaching programme and the coaching programme with Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren.

“It has made a big difference to the community in north Belfast which has been characterised over the years for having limited structured sports activities. Sport is the one thing that can bring people together and the activities we run are enabling local people to improve their quality of life while boosting their health.”

Local communities will be able to apply for funding to appoint Community Sports Development Officers and Community Co-ordinators working with local people in a bid to promote healthier lifestyles through innovative sports activities.

These could include finding new ways of attracting women, older people, people with disabilities and ethnic minority groups into sport and physical activity. The lottery funding could also be used to support family activities and make better use of rural and urban spaces.

Activities will be geared to the needs of each community and the Community Sports Development Officers will be tasked with finding innovative ways of designing and running projects that will boost and sustain participation in sport and health benefiting physical activities.

The range of innovative sports activities taking place at the Waterworks Multi-Sports Facility in north Belfast is an example of what could be funded under the extended Community Sport programme.

(MB)

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