Canoeing Ireland had the pleasure of welcoming Jack Chambers, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, to the recent launch of the iLead programme. The programme, introduced at the Canoeing Ireland Training Centre, aims to provide opportunities for transition year students to participate in a leadership programme based on skill acquisition and mentorship. The project offers a different perspective on sporting participation for teens who may not be inclined towards participation in sport. This programme is designed to promote a lifelong love of Paddlesports in participants.

Programme aims –

  1. The programme targets DEIS schools, where traditionally, engagement with water sports is low.
  2. Each participant will enter into and complete a series of Kayaking classes leading to a Level 3 Kayaking Skills certification.
  3. There is an option for participants to continue complete a Level 1 Kayaking Instructor Certificate.
  4. Completion of the Bronze Gaisce Award.

An important element of this project is to work to ensure that as high a proportion of the participants as possible remain in the sport beyond the first year. This will be done through providing DEIS students the opportunity to engage with sport through in leadership roles, inspiring a long term participation in paddlesports.

Canoeing Ireland received funding from Dormant Accounts for Youth Leadership in 2020. A further application has been submitted for this programme in 2021 to extend the programme reach. We are extremely grateful to both Sport Ireland and The Minister for Sport and the Gaeltacht for the support of this programme. Jack Chambers, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, while attending the launch both spoke in support of the programme, and got out on the water to enjoy the benefits of paddlesports for himself –

“I was delighted to help launch the iLead Programme with Canoeing Ireland in Dublin West. As Minister for Sport, I am committed to increasing participation in sport and physical activity to 60pc of our population and programmes like iLead will be enormously important in helping us to meet this target. We need to reach out to new communities with new ideas and to promote a broad range of sports where there is huge potential to grow and get more young people regularly participating in physical activity. Delivering a more diverse offering to our young people is crucial and that is why I’m so pleased to see sports like canoeing and kayaking being given this opportunity to showcase itself to school students.

It has been an incredible summer for sport with our sporting stars representing Ireland with pride both at home in our domestic sports, and overseas with the success of Team Ireland at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and I am eager to build now on this success and get as many people as possible involved in sport.”

Jack Chambers out on the water

Also present at the launch was Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy, watching on as the students of Rosary College, Crumlin, became the first participants of the iLead programme. Canoeing Ireland CEO, Moira Aston, gave a ringing endorsement of both paddlesports and the iLead programme –

“This programme is a very good fit for Canoeing Ireland, a sport that fosters, supports and nurtures leadership skills by developing decision making capabilities, Care of Self and Others, confidence and bravery. We are truly a sport that engages mind and body and, once bitten by the paddling bug, it is a sport for life. Canoeing Ireland has been working hard to remove participation barriers and the programme we are launching today is another step on our journey towards full inclusivity. We are very grateful to the Minister and his Department and Sport Ireland for their continued support.”

iLead Launch

Our first two schools for the pilot programme are Rosary College, Crumlin and Coláiste Eoin, Finglas. Both schools are very excited to be part of the programme and have requested that the full transition year class 2021/2022 be accommodated on the course. We are also partnering with a collection of people within youth service/leadership from Brú Crumlin, The Adventure Project and CDETB Outdoor Education Support Service to ensure the success of the programme.