Sport Northern Ireland has announced grants of £662,000 in 27 sports to boost participation and promote good community relations.

Sports clubs and community groups are gearing up for an exciting Summer of Sport, after Sport Northern Ireland distributed funding through its Active Awards for Sport programme.

The small grants programme, which is National Lottery-funded, aims to increase participation in sport whilst tackling poverty and social exclusion, uniting communities through sport.

Looking forward to another exciting Summer of Sport, Sport Northern Ireland’s Chief Executive Antoinette McKeown, said: “We are all more than ready for a great Summer of Sport, after a fantastic month of Giro excitement in May and the Commonwealth Games kicking off this month. Sport is unique in many ways and has many benefits, it can help improve our health and it can also break down barriers and promote good relations, uniting us as a community.

“Local clubs, community groups and our governing bodies of sport are doing fantastic work in providing opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and physical recreation and we are proud to support them through our Active Awards for Sport programme. This Summer is an excellent opportunity for everyone in our communities to get active, get involved and get to know each other.”

One example of how the funding is being used to get people physically active and involved in their communities is the Lower Ormeau Resident’s Action Group’s (LORAG) Inter Cultural Summer Sports Scheme.

Based at Shaftesbury Community and Recreation Centre, up to 150 children aged 5-14 will come together from communities including Donegall Pass, Markets and Lower Ormeau as well as the Roma, Ivorian, Somali and Asylum seekers communities and associations. The scheme, which runs five times a week throughout July and August, will give children the opportunity to join together to take part in a range of sports including soccer, tennis, tag rugby, athletics and gaelic games.

LORAG is also using funding from Sport NI’s Active Awards for Sport programme to run Jog Belfast, a ten-week “Coach to 5k” initiative, and the Older&Active initiative, providing over 60’s with a fitness and physical activity programme.

Applications for Active Awards for Sport re-opens for the next round of funding in September 2014. Through the small grants programme, sports clubs, community groups and the governing bodies of sport can apply for grants ranging from £1,000 to £10,000, to cover expenses such as coaching fees, coach education, facility hire, fees for project-related courses and the purchase of equipment.