New roadmap may bring relief for cash-strapped sports

Major funding increases are finally in the pipeline for the cash-strapped Irish high-performance sports sector with the imminent publication of the Government’s Sports Policy Document in the coming months.

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin hinted at the expected bump at Trinity College in Dublin yesterday where he gave the opening address at the Federation of Irish Sport’s annual conference.

The conference focused on the New Zealand sports model and the successes it has enjoyed at grassroots and elite levels in the past decade.

The Kiwi approach has been praised by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other Irish government officials.

Funding has clearly helped in that with the New Zealand high-performance system receiving four times the €10.8m which their Irish counterparts took receipt of in 2018 and Minister Griffin stated yesterday that he ‘recognised the discrepancy’ in funding for the elite sector.

The Sports Policy Document, he added, would make a major effort to “address that gap”. 

To be published in July, the document is expected to provide a long-term road map for sport at all levels in Ireland.

It comes on top of a commitment by government to make the Sports Capital Programme an annual affair for the first time since the global economic crash in 2008 and there is further good news in store in that sense.

The Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund, long mooted, is finally ready to get off the ground. 

A total of €50m is already in place and it is hoped that another €50m again will be added to the pot to facilitate projects which go beyond the means of the Sports Capital Fund.

Expressions of interest will be taken as early as next month and among those certain to be received will be that for the new stand at the RDS which is being undertaken by the Ballsbridge arena’s owners and their tenants Leinster Rugby.

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