#waterski – Among the highlights made in today's Federation of Irish Sport annual review is a report that participation in water-skiing and wakeboarding increased from 3,000 to 8,500 at a time when many other water based sports, such as sailing, face a decline in numbers.
The Federation has called on the Government to make some beneficial New Year sporting resolutions to extend the tax relief for sporting bodies beyond capital projects to include day-to-day spending, as well as to allocate a portion of betting tax receipts for the development of all sports and not just horse and greyhound racing as is the case currently. The calls were made as the Federation, the representative association for National Governing Bodies of Sport, published its Sixth Annual Review of Irish Sport, highlighting the huge sporting contribution Ireland's National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships have made to Irish life during 2014.
The Federation strongly believes that the measures put forward, in addition to the development of a cross-government National Sports Strategy, would serve to significantly enhance the sustainability of sporting activities in Ireland and to copper-fasten the contribution sport makes to community life, public health, the economy, and to Ireland's reputation at home and abroad.
Brogan Calls for New Funding Initiatives
While welcoming recent Government commitments in relation to the funding of sport, Bernard Brogan, President of the Federation of Irish Sport and Dublin GAA star, is urging a number of new funding initiatives that would future-proof its viability:
"It is clear that sustained Government investment in Irish Sport is paying off with 47.2 per cent of Irish people now participating in sport1, up from 30.8 per cent in 20082. The increase in participation rates has been reflected in the success of Irish athletes on the international stage—across all sports at all levels—with Irish athletes having so far won a total of 241 medals between 2011 and 20143, compared with just 65 medals from 2007 to 20104.
"However, while it is welcome that the level of funding for the Irish Sports Council has been maintained at €42.5 million and an additional €1 million has been allocated for preparations for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016—and we acknowledge the efforts of Ministers Donohoe and Ring in this regard—this is from a point where there has been a 27 per cent reduction in funding levels since 2008. It is clear that more can be done to sustain the sector in supporting people's health and well-being, in enhancing our social fabric and in growing our economy. That is why the Federation is today calling on the Government to give serious consideration to affording tax relief to the day-to-day spending of sporting bodies, beyond capital spending as pertains now, as well as including all sports—and not just horse and greyhound racing—in the allocation of development funding from betting taxes."
Need for National Sports Strategy
Sarah O'Connor, Chief Executive, Federation of Irish Sport, believes a masterplan for sport is critical for its future development:
"Irish sport supports 40,000 jobs in the economy5, contributes 2.4 per cent to GDP6 and stimulates €1.9 billion in household spending7 and €650 million in overseas tourism spending8. It is the single biggest contributor to active citizenship with almost 500,000 adults volunteering in sport each year9, with the economic value of this voluntary workforce estimated at €1.3 billion10. Almost nine in ten Irish people believe that sport has a positive impact on the country's reputation11. It also has a huge effect in combating the significant public health challenges posed by obesity with 89 per cent of highly active people more likely to report both their weight and diet as healthy12.
"Sport plays such a huge part in the development of our society and we need to maximise its true potential for everyone's benefit. It is only when there is an All-of-Government commitment and approach to sport that its rich and varied dividend can be maximised. That's why sport needs new and strategic thinking and this can best be achieved through the development of a cross-Government National Sports Strategy."
2014 Federation Key Sporting Highlights
The role of Ireland's National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships are critical to the future of sport and the Federation's Annual Review sets out just some of the returns that these organisations have made on the Government monies invested in them. Among the 2014 achievements were:
National and International Sporting Achievements
· Rory McIIroy won the British Open and United States PGA golf championships
· 30 medals were won by Irish boxers in European competitions in 2014 in addition to Katie Taylor's fifth World Championship Title
· Ireland's Women's Rugby Team become the first Irish team to beat the All Blacks while the men secured the RBS 6 Nations Title for only the second time
· The Football Association of Ireland secured the Euro 2020 Championship matches for Dublin
· 1,500 athletes took part in the Special Olympics World Games, supported by 3,000 volunteers
· The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union won their bid to host the International Golf Federation's World Amateur Team Championships to be staged in Carton House, Co. Kildare, in 2018, which will see more than 500 golfers compete from 80 countries
· 20,000 United States visitors attended the Croke Park Classic between the University of Central Florida and Penn State generating €30 million for the Irish economy
Sporting Body Achievements
· Athletics Ireland's female-to-male membership ratio is now 55:45 following the success of its Fit4Life initiative targeting female participation
· Badminton Ireland's Shuttle Time initiative resulted in 50,000 children now playing badminton in schools while, separately, 32 new badminton clubs were established
· Swim Ireland's inaugural Swim for a Mile event saw 1,200 people take part
· Triathlon Ireland's races during 2014 saw 50,000 participants get involved
· Cycling Ireland's membership increased by 21 per cent
· The Irish Wheelchair Association's sport programmes saw a 10 per cent increase in participation rates
· Canoe Ireland's International Liffey Descent was a great success with 800 participants taking part, including many visitors from overseas
· The GAA's Féile na nGael and Féile na nÓg festivals saw 15,000 children take part in 977 games over two weekends
· A record 1,100 women took part in the Ladies Gaelic Football's Annual Gaelic4Mothers Blitz
· 1,800 students from 127 teams took part in eight Student Sport Ireland leagues
Community Initiative Achievements
· 2,500 cyclists took part in Cork Sports Partnership's Rebel Tour
· 1,620 children took part in Fingal Sport Partnership's Primary School Athletics Final
· 3,000 people took part in Kerry Sport Partnership's Let's Get Kerry Walking
· 2,300 children took part in the University of Limerick's Sports Kids Run for Fun
· 400 women took part in Monaghan Sport Partnership's try an activity programme for those over 50
· The Tour of Sligo cycle race generated €450,000 for the local economy
· 500,000 people took part in recreational ice skating
· Participation in water-skiing and wakeboarding increased from 3,000 to 8,500
The Annual Review is available at www.irishsport.ie