Northern Ireland footballer Joely Andrews and Belfast Giant Josh Roach helped inspire some 700 primary school pupils to become ‘more active, more of the time’ at this year’s Department for Communities’ Celebration of Sport.
Now in its ninth year, the Celebration of Sport at Antrim Forum today saw children participate in more than 30 indoor and outdoor sporting activities, including boxing, football, cricket, GAA, hockey, rugby, martial arts, netball, volleyball, canoeing and wheelchair basketball.
Andrews, who starred at last summer’s UEFA Euro 2022 finals in England and attended the event on behalf of the Irish FA, said:
“I was keen to support this year’s Celebration of Sport because I believe it’s important to highlight the benefits of sport to young people.
“I know from my own journey so far in football and from playing at the Euro 2022 finals how sport can inspire and have a unifying and positive impact on society and how staying active can give you a real sense of purpose and achievement.
“It’s important we pass on that love and appreciation of sport to primary school kids and I was delighted, alongside all the other guests, to help do that in such a fun and practical way at this year’s Celebration of Sport.”
The annual event promotes physical wellbeing and encourages young people of all abilities and from different backgrounds to participate in and appreciate the wider benefits of sport.
Attending the Celebration of Sport, a key component of the Active Living Strategy, Colum Boyle, Department for Communities Permanent Secretary, welcomed several special guests to the event including the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Alderman Stephen Ross.
Colum Boyle said:
“I was delighted to welcome all the children, young people, teachers, athletes and guests to today’s event in Antrim.
“We have produced successful teams and individuals who are recognised worldwide and who have inspired the next generation to take up a sport and be the best that they can be.
“Growing participation through events like the Celebration of Sport is about encouraging more people to be more active, more of the time and providing access and opportunity to sport and physical activity regardless of background, ability, gender or age.
“We hope that the pupils will be inspired by the achievements of the athletes here today and that they will find a sport or activity they will be able to enjoy for many years to come.”
BBC presenter Mark Sidebottom hosted a question-and-answer session with a panel of local athletes and coaches, including Belfast Giant Josh Roach, Northern Ireland footballer Joely Andrews, Ireland men’s hockey coach Mark Tumilty, Ulster women rugby forward Ilse Van Staden and former Derry GAA star and All-Ireland winner Tony Scullion.
Taster sessions, including live demonstrations by coaches and young athletes, were provided in an array of activities, including disabled sports which are an integral part of the event.
Activities supported by other Departments included Together Building a United Community (TBUC) supported jointly by Department for Communities and The Executive Office, and fishing activities supported by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).
Young Ambassadors aged between 16 and 25 years old from the Fresh Start through Sport Programme were in attendance to provide support throughout the day.
Notes to editors:
- Photo caption 1: Department for Communities Deputy Permanent Secretary Moira Doherty gives two pupils from Riverside Special School in Antrim a lift on a disability bicycle at this year's Celebration of Sport at Antrim Forum.
- Photo caption 2: Pictured at the Department for Communities annual Celebration of Sport event at Antrim Forum are pupils from Moneynick Primary School with the Department's Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle, Northern Ireland footballer Joely Andrews and Belfast Giant Josh Roach.
- The schools attending the Celebration of Sport were: Antrim Primary School; Greystone Primary School (Antrim); Loanends Primary School; Moneynick Primary School; Mount St Michael’s Primary School (Randalstown); Parkgate Primary School; Parkhall Primary School (Antrim); Riverside Special School (Antrim); St Comgall’s Primary School (Antrim); St Joseph’s Primary School (Antrim), Ballyclare Primary and Thompson Primary School (Ballyrobert).
- The Active Living Sport and Physical Activity Strategy for Northern Ireland is available here: Active Living- Sport and Physical Activity Strategy for Northern Ireland | Department for Communities (communities-ni.gov.uk)
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