The Active Awards 2016/17 programme saw over £600,000 invested into 105 grassroots sports clubs across Northern Ireland. There were almost 14,000 participants benefitted from the Active Awards funding during 2016/17. Around 60% of the beneficiaries of this programme were women and girls (8333 participants), 11% of the participants were people with a disability (1595 participants) and 56% of the beneficiaries came from areas of greatest social need across Northern Ireland (7761 participants).
One of these clubs is Rathgael Gymnastics Club, based in Bangor, who offer a wide variety of opportunities in a selection of gymnastic disciplines for both children and adults. These include artistic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, tumbling, trampolining, teamgym, cheer, freestyle, recreational & pre-school gymnastics. The club is affiliated to British Gymnastics, Gymnastics Northern Ireland and Gymnastics Ireland and this year was awarded Disability Sport NI’s inclusive club of the year award. The club set out to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in gymnastics and have invested heavily in training in disability awareness, Makaton, sign language and visual awareness, with 15 coaches now qualified to take disability gymnastics. The club’s attendance has expanded to 35 participants with a disability each week and is now a recognised Special Olympics Facility. Having previously been awarded Sport NI’s Clubmark accreditation and British Gymnastics GymMark accreditation, the club has become the first club in Northern Ireland to become a British Gymnastics ‘I’m Inclusive’ club.
Another success story is the 22nd Old Boys FC who developed a female football and health development programme and have now established the 22nd Ladies Football Club. The club worked in partnership with Extern Mental Health Charity and the Shankill Womens Centre to establish the ladies team and they have seen significant improvement, both individually and collectively, throughout their inaugural season. The ladies team have gained entry to the NI Women’s Football League and now play in the NIFWA North 2 League, with one of their players, Katrina Montgomery, being named player of the year for this league. August 2017 also saw the 22nd Old Boys/Ladies FC awarded the McDonald’s IFA regional accredited club of the year award for Belfast.
Rochester’s Amateur Boxing Club were another organisation who received funding through the Active Awards 2016/17 programme and have seen success. The club holds both adult and junior sessions several times a week, where coaching is provided by qualified IABA Level 1 coaches. The sessions can include a variety of techniques including cardio circuits, bag circuits, technical instructions, pad work, ring craft, sparring, abdominal circuits and stretching. The Active Awards funding helped the club to establish a weekly ladies boxercise class, and the attendance at these sessions has upped the female membership to 20%, with 5 of the ladies who attend now carded and competing at county level.
Sport NI is delighted to be able to support a variety of grassroots clubs through the Active Awards programme and congratulates all those clubs who are helping to make everyone across Northern Ireland #BetterFitter.
Holy Cross Play Group received £1,481. This group delivered an Active Play project aimed at 36 young people aged from three to four years to improve their ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination). The group promoted key messages about how parents could encourage additional activity at home, as well as running football and GAA taster programmes to inspire young people to become involved in additional sporting activities.
“Holy Cross Active Play has been a great success and thanks to the equipment we can ensure that we deliver this programme to all new children who come to us, thus ensuring the legacy of the programme.” Katrina McGann: Play Group Manage
Slievegallion Community Association received £7,680 towards a multi-sport programme. As part of this project the group organised a walking group for people aged 50 and over, and a football tournament for females with two members of each team aged 50 and over. A total of 115 older people benefited directly from this project.
“We have established ourselves as the leading health and fitness provider in the community thanks to Sport Northern Ireland’s help.” Chris Trainor: Centre Manager
Women’s Football Association (NIWFA) received £6,596 which they used to roll out 10 Northern Ireland- wide girls’ football camps in partnership with the Irish Football Association. The ‘Girls Allowed Too’ project has provided the NIWFA Committee with plenty of food for thought.
This project attracted 380 young girls to get involved in the various pilot projects. It also increased the number of coaches – with 30 coaches and 18 helpers assisting with the projects and some of these coaches have since become newly qualified coaches through the ‘Girls Allowed’ project. (An IFA project aimed at encouraging more female coaches to get involved)
“This project has provided the NIWFA with excellent feedback that we hope will assist us in making a case to the IFA to further support girls and women’s football using UEFA funding.” Elaine Junk: NIWFA Manager