Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced that the first funding awards from the £25million Sports Sustainability Fund have issued.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant financial hardship for the sports sector and this fund was co-designed with the Sporting Codes to help mitigate against the net losses that the sector has suffered.
The Minister said: “The Sports Sustainability Fund attracted significant interest, with 37 sport Governing Bodies submitting an application on behalf of their entire ‘sporting family’. I am pleased to report that the first funding awards are issuing this week, with SportNI on track to have all awards issued by mid-March. The awards will help provide the sector, including grassroots clubs, with the financial support it needs to ensure it can cope with and recover from the impact of the Covid restrictions and the ongoing challenges the pandemic is presenting.”
The Minister continued: “This vital funding is in addition to £2m issued to over 1,100 clubs through the Sports Hardship Fund and a further £800,000 to provide 1,300 Sports clubs with Covid Safe Sports Packs which will help prepare a safe environment for when the time is right for activities to recommence.
“Through all this funding support we have provided so far to those clubs most in need, we have focused solely on grant programmes rather than loan schemes so that the sector is not building debt during these difficult times. The support is a lifeline for many of those clubs most in need at this time.”
The Minister concluded: “My Department will continue to work closely with SportNI, the NI Sports Forum, Governing Bodies and other Departments to ensure that the sector continues to receive advice, guidance and financial support to help sustain clubs.”
CEO of SportNI Antoinette McKeown said: “The Sports Sustainability Fund is a critical support to the sports sector at this time and Sport NI is pleased to make the first of these much needed awards to sports this week, with further awards to follow during February and March. The sports sector’s contribution to the community effort needed during Covid was amazing. We know that sports will play an even more vital role in our recovery, helping our young people and all of us to reconnect with our communities and benefit again from the emotional, mental and physical wellbeing that sport brings.”