Following the success of its two community sports hubs in Ballyhaunis and Ballinrobe, Mayo Sports Partnership has successfully secured funding for a third Community Sports and Physical Activity Hub – in Ballina – that will seek to promote sports activities for all, outside of the traditional GAA football, hurling and rugby activities.
The new Ballina Sports Hub Co-ordinator, Pat O’Brien, told members of Ballina MD at their meeting on Wednesday: “This is a five-year plan for developing a community sports network. I will be organising four annual meetings of all clubs and sports to come together and see how we can progress. It is up to each club to say what they need; we don’t have huge capital funding but there is a lot available for training.
“The goal is to provide the pathway to everyone in the community to get involved in sports. We will come and try a particular sport, eg wheelchair basketball, cricket, and then work with those involved. We are looking for well-trained people and strong organisations. A lot of clubs need new blood, maybe a new person at the head. We also want parents involved. It will be about providing training for volunteers, in courses such as safeguarding children, first aid etc.”
The new role has been funded from the government’s dormant accounts fund, following a successful application by MSP. Some activities rolled out in Ballina to date include a football game between members of the gardai and the travelling community, the setting up of Ballina Rowing Club, a new Dragon Boat club plan, a walking group in Ballina Training Centre, Mayo Mental Health Service activities; the Kilmoremoy Mothers and Others football club and Walking Football in Ballina soccer club.
O’Brien said the initiative is particularly targetted at the disadvantaged, young people, older adults, ethnic minorities, women, travellers, and people with disabilities, adding: “I encouraged a woman in her 60s to go back to badminton and now she sleeps better. So my role is to get everyone out there and more active.”