Minister Ring Announces Sports Grants For Over 1,000 Groups Of Older People

A total of 1,023 groups of older people across Ireland are celebrating the awarding of grants to support physical activity and sport. The Go for Life Small Grant Scheme from Age & Opportunity and the Irish Sports Council is awarding almost €300,000 in total. Individual grants range from €250 to €1,500 and go to Active Retirement Groups, ICA guilds, Local Sports Partnerships, Sports Clubs, Family Resources Centres and many others who provide physical activity for older people.

Announcing the successful groups today, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring, said: 'Go for Life gets thousands of older people moving every week. This is improving their social, mental and physical well-being. It's also building stronger local communities of volunteers. This grant is underpinned by a unique network of volunteer Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) and, because of them, Go for Life can achieve great results with a small investment. I understand that 28,000 people will take part in activities funded by this grant scheme.'

One of the groups to be awarded a grant were Bruskey ICA. Leila Beattie is delighted to be getting the grant as, in previous years, it has allowed the group to do activities like yoga and aqua aerobics. Last year, they used it to get the Go for Life Games bag of equipment: "The bag of Games has brought a whole new lease of life to Bruskey guild. It has brought out the fun element in people, the bit of craic when somebody's losing or somebody's winning. It's brought out a competitive spirit that we didn't know was in ourselves. We have also joined with other groups, forming teams against one another. That leads to social activity and people getting to know other people and other groups."

Karen Smyth, CEO of Age & Opportunity, sees a new confidence in older people around sport and physical activity: "It's interesting to see the variety of activities people are doing. There were grants for activities like yoga, bowling and swimming but we were also seeing grants awarded for dragon-boat racing, boxercise, salsa dancing and weightlifting. For me, this variety really shows how older people are no longer confined by the stereotypes of what they should and shouldn't do. People are keeping fit and healthy on their own terms and in their own way. And, from what we've heard here today, they are having a lot of fun doing it."

Speaking at the launch, John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council said: "The Irish Sports Council has made increasing participation in sport and physical activity a key strategic priority. For over fourteen years, the Council has been committed to the Go for Life Programme which aims to increase participation among older people in recreational sport activities. A record number of groups will be supported by today's announcement and I want to acknowledge the groups, clubs and our own national network of Local Sports Partnerships who provide opportunities to increase participation among older people in sport and physical activity".

The Grant Scheme is a joint initiative between Age & Opportunity's Go for Life programme and the Irish Sports Council. The scheme is aimed at encouraging older people to get involved and is used by groups to buy equipment, run sports events or to try new activities. Now in its fourteenth year, it has so far awarded over €4.5million in almost 10,000 grants during its lifetime.