BY CIARAN O’DONNELL
Donegal Sports Partnership secured a total of €816,290 in funding last year, according to its latest annual report.
The report for 2021, which was presented at the recent annual general meeting, also showed that 5,626 people participated in 341 locally delivered initiatives throughout Donegal. 891 people took part in education and training that included Safeguarding, Youth Leadership, Disability Inclusion, NWSP Athlete Seminars, Building Positive Clubs and Female Leadership Programmes.
In his annual review, Donegal Sports Partnership Coordinator, Myles Sweeney, said adapting to changing local environments has been a strength of Donegal Sports Partnership.
“During the previous years of 2019 and 2020 while in the grip of Covid-19, the organisation changed many of its working patterns to continue to promote sport and physical activity. In 2021 it was more about re-starting and re-opening our communities with a more blended and controlled approach as the threat of Covid-19 was still looming,” he said.
Mr. Sweeney noted that research would reflect that volunteering was a huge challenge, with many clubs losing key volunteers during the pandemic.
“And while some have returned a need still exists to support clubs in this area into the future. With this issue in mind in 2021 Sport Ireland and the DSP distributed approximately €110,000 to clubs and community groups through a small grants measure with the aims of supporting the clubs’ capacity and developing programmes to restart sport and physical activity,” he added.
After many years of reviewing and updating the policies, procedures and various governance documents, the board of directors of Donegal Sports Partnership submitted the relevant Public Statement of Compliance documents to Sport Ireland to indicate compliance with the principles of the Governance Code for Sport.
“This has been a major milestone for the organisation and places governance and compliance on the agenda of all future board of director meetings. However, the journey continues with a number of key gaps to be filled over the coming period with a new strategic plan and stakeholders’ policy and communications plan due for development.”
Thanking the funding bodies who put their trust in Donegal Sports Partnership to deliver programmes, activities and events to the various target groups, the coordinator continued: “This gives our board of directors and staff confidence that the work done and presented as our annual operational plan is valued and making a difference, especially within our communities.”
“Thanks also to our board of directors who provide the staff and myself with an assurance of the work undertaken, and the DSP staff who go beyond the call of duty to engage and support our communities. I have no doubt that many further challenges will raise their heads during the incoming year. However, I am confident that in the spirit of collaboration and partnership we can respond to whatever is placed in our path.”
In what was her last annual report, outgoing Donegal Sports Partnership Chairperson, Anne McAteer, said that despite the difficult environment Donegal Sports Partnership had to work in during 2021, it saw a small increase in its funding.
“I would like to extend our appreciation to Sport Ireland for our core funding and their support to the coordinator from a national level. Partnership working is something we do well in Donegal and the statutory bodies recognise the critical importance of Donegal Sports Partnership contributing further to the funding. On behalf of the board, I extend our thanks to Donegal County Council, the ETB and the HSE,” she added.
“We have been successful in our funding bids to Dormant Accounts resulting in the development of Community Hubs in Maghery (Maghery Coastal Adventures), Donegal Bay (Inclusive Sports Hub), Letterkenny (Urban Adventures Project) and the recent addition in Ray (Ray Activity Hub). These small rural communities are providing local activities and making the best use of the environment.
“Based on the border, we are also a recipient of cross-border and cross-community funding, through PEACE IV – Minority Sports and Football for All Programmes, North West Regional Development Group funded the North West Sporting Pathways Programme and ERASMUS+ Fair Play funded the ‘Sport Together’ Programme.”
Ms. McAteer said successful funding is only possible with the work of the coordinator and the team in developing the funding bids and overseeing the implementation of programmes to ensure targets are met.
“I commend the annual report and the photographs tell better the story of Donegal Sports Partnership than my words today. The provision is across the age range – small children learning fundamentals on their balance bikes and older people improving their mobility through the use of activator poles. Donegal Sports Partnership recognises people’s ability and many families with children and young people with a disability have benefitted from participating in A Drop in the Ocean, a surfing programme for families supported by the Disability Officer.
“In 2022 we will complete the work on our next strategy document. I would like to thank the board members for their ongoing support and pay tribute to the work of the staff of Donegal Sports Partnership,” the chairperson added.
The following officers were ratified by the board of directors – Chairman PJ Hallinan; vice-chairperson Síle Uí Ghallachóir; secretary Martin Gormley, and treasurer Joe Sweeney.
A full copy of the 2021 annual report can be downloaded from the following link: