3000 participated in Donegal Sports Partnership programmes in 2020

Participants in Donegal Sports Partnership’s Female Leadership Programme Beyond 20×20 pictured at the launch last year in Gartan. The initiative was highlighted within Local Sports Partnerships’ annual report published by Sport Ireland as an impressive case study.

Around 3,000 people participated in the 28 programmes delivered by Donegal Sports Partnership (DSP) in 2020, according to the Local Sports Partnerships’ annual report published by Sport Ireland.

The report also shows that over 600 people took part in the seven education and training courses rolled out by DSP last year, while 323 people completed Sport Ireland’s Safeguarding 1 course.

DSP is one of 29 Local Sports Partnerships featured in the annual report which highlights the work of the LSP network and the impact they have on participation by engaging key target populations across Ireland.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, DSP has continued to provide programmes and initiatives to ensure that everyone in Donegal has the opportunity to share in the enjoyment, as well as the mental and physical health benefits of sport and physical activity.

“While it goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic had a massive impact on all sectors of society, Donegal Sports Partnership adapted its programmes to provide virtual alternatives, particularly during the first lockdown,” commented Myles Sweeney, DSP Coordinator, Myles Sweeney.

“There were several practical outdoor sessions in September and October. Around 3,000 participated in programmes, with over 600 people taking part in education and training,” he added.

A total of 1,597 people took part in DSP’s 13 disability events, 259 participated in national bike week, while 308 took to the roads for the ‘Operation Transformation’ walks initiative.

DSP’s Female Leadership Programme Beyond 20×20 was highlighted within Sport Ireland’s annual report as an impressive case study. The programme linked into the National 20×20 Campaign which has the key objective of increasing participation by females in sport by 20 per cent by 2020.

The Female Leadership Programme Beyond 20×20 was delivered from March to November online due to Covid-19 restrictions, with two face-to-face meetings when restrictions allowed. 13 participants completed the programme.

“Participants developed more confidence in themselves, belief in their ability and their skills to carry out their roles, not only in sport, but in their personal and working and educational lives,” the report said.

“Participants developed a stronger sense of resilience and have a better understanding of their mental state when coping with challenges, set-backs and stressful situations. Participants have grasped a better understanding of leadership, one’s values and behaviours which impact on one’s style of leadership.

“Participants will get an opportunity to put their skills into practice in 2021, in which they will continue to be supported by their mentors and clubs, once restrictions are eased and it is safe to do so. Donegal Sports Partnership will roll out another programme in autumn 2021,” the report added.

Reflecting on 2020, Mr Sweeney said: “Despite the many challenges and restrictions of Covid-19, Donegal Sports Partnership provided many communities across the county with ideas to maintain a positive lifestyle. Sport and physical activity, while limited for a major part of the year, responded admirably to keeping people active. This proved to be a real bonus in what were extremely difficult times.”

The DSP Coordinator added: “I’d like to commend the staff of the DSP for their determination to respond. It’s also important to acknowledge the many organisations who stepped up to support DSP in the delivery of programmes and initiatives which reflected the strength of partnership work across Donegal.”

Looking ahead, Mr Sweeney commented: “I’m hopeful that sport and physical activity will get back to pre-2020 levels. I’m also hopeful that further resources will be made available to support this area as it slowly opens up again.”

In 2020, Sport Ireland allocated over €870,000 in Programme Funding to the LSP Network, an increase of 53 per cent from the 2019 investment. Programme funding is at the core of the LSPs engagement with participants and allows for the delivery of a range of community, club and school-based initiatives, programmes and events.