Sport Ireland has published its new Policy on Sport and Physical Activity in the Outdoor, with a vision to create opportunities for everyone to participate in and enjoy sport and physical activity in the outdoors.
The policy was officially launched by Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers TD.
The goals of the policy are built around four target areas:
- Provide Leadership
- Build Capacity
- Support Infrastructure Development
- Create Opportunities
The importance of outdoor recreation from a health and wellbeing perspective is identified in the National Sports Policy, which targets the development of opportunities for participation in sport and physical activity in the outdoors including running, walking, cycling and outdoor adventure pursuits.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Martin said: “We have all seen in recent months the important place nature and the outdoors has in our society and the role it has played in maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing. The Sport Ireland Outdoors Policy presents an ambitious vision for increasing participation in all forms of sport and physical activity in the outdoors and it is greatly welcomed. The Programme for Government places a strong emphasis on activities that are especially suitable for all generations. We are fortunate to live in such a wonderful country with so many natural amenities available to us for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. I would encourage everyone to get out and be active outdoors and avail of what is around us”.
Sport Ireland plays a lead role in promoting and supporting participation in all forms of outdoor sport and physical activity in Ireland and along with the sustainable development of this sector. This includes the management of the National Trails Register and trail accreditation system in Ireland, and supporting a number of infrastructure development and participation initiatives such as Greenways, Blueways, Get Ireland Walking and Get Ireland Cycling.
Minster Chambers added: “The recent findings of the Irish Sports Monitor 2019 show that more and more people are getting out into the outdoors to participate in sport and physical activity. The addition of Greenways and Blueways to the Irish landscape has been revolutionary for many, providing plenty of opportunities for people to get out and experience the outdoors in a safe and welcoming environment. The policy published today is timely and I look forward to seeing many more opportunities being developed in the years to come.”
The social, physical and health benefits associated with participating in sport and physical activity in the outdoors are well documented and are reflected in the new policy.
Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy, said: “Outdoor recreation plays an important role in supporting the wellbeing of society. We know that getting out into the outdoors regularly provides significant improvements in mental health and psychological wellbeing and encourages regular and sustained participation. There are relatively few limitations to participation and it is ideal for providing life-long physical activity. This policy will help establish new partnerships, create new participation opportunities and encourage other stakeholders, at a national and local level, to increase their work and investment in this sector, while encouraging more people to get out into the outdoors”.
Dr. Una May, Director of Participation and Ethics with Sport Ireland, commented: “Many people are fortunate to have access to a wonderful natural environments in which we can be physically active. Nature and being outdoors has many benefits and we hope to encourage people to really make use of these amenities and increase participation in all forms of sport and physical activity in the outdoors”.
The policy will be implemented and lead by Sport Ireland with support and input from a number of departmental agencies and organisations throughout the island of Ireland.