Funding & Irish Gymnastics on the rise

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In February this year, we reported that Irish Gymnastics was to receive an increase in funding from the Irish Sports Council (ISC). Funding to sports has always been an issue in Ireland with GAA, IRFU and FAI (Gaelic Athletic Association, Irish Rugby Football Union and Football Association Ireland) being known as the three big sport governing bodies in the country. They receive the most funding compared to the other 65 recognised  sports governing bodies in Ireland.

According to an article in Ireland’s Sunday Business Post newspaper, funding for the ISC – which distributes government funds to member organisations – has dropped 5 per cent year-on-year to €46.7 million. The fears are that continued cuts to the budget will begin to take affect on the great work the sports governing bodies have done so far. The article is a great read, for those in Ireland and also to those who are not.

 

Those who are familiar with Irish Gymnastics will agree that the governing body has undergone a huge amount of developmental change in the last few years. Notably that the long awaited newly developed coaching courses have been rolled out over the  last three years thus increasing the coaches knowledge significantly which in turn has a major impact on the gymnasts talent. The coaching ladder structure has changed again over the last year, although the information is currently not available on the website. There are also other factors that have contributed to changes within the sport,the amount of full time gymnastics facilities has increased hugely in the last few years, something that most clubs could only dream of for years. With approximately 2,000 newly qualified coaches within the last two years and the talent is gradually rising to meet other European standards. Irelands Luke Carson and Charlotte McKenna competed well at the 2010 Dehli Commonwealth Games, Kieran Behan placed 8th on floor at the Cottbus Cup,  Charlotte Mc Kenna, Chris O’Connor and Anthony McDonnell all competed at the 2011 European Championships.  This helps to show why Irish Gymnastics was one of only eight sports to have it’s funding increased in 2011. The demand for gymnastics in Ireland is high, many clubs have long waiting lists of children waiting to join.

 

There are nine disciplines covered by the organisation and, in the last two years, around 2,000 coaches have qualified and been certified by Irish Gymnastics. Gallagher said that a new administration system had been developed, along with a welfare policy and education programme. Next year, a marketing and events department, along with high performance policy, will be developed.

‘‘We have created some new initiatives such as Springboard and GymStart [for coaching gymnastics], and are in the final stages of rebranding the organisation,” he said.

‘‘The three core basic of gymnastics – strength, flexibility and spatial awareness – can be used in most codes of sport, and we have trained coaches to implement these in GAA and IRFU clubs. We are also partnered with the University of Ulster School of Sports Science and are involved in the local sports partnerships programme,” he said.

‘‘We are currently in negotiations with British Gymnastics about a collaboration with the North, which would see our membership jump to 20,000. Next year we will also look at the area of high performance, and we are in discussions with a major sports clothing company about generating income for the organisation from sales of its sportswear,” Gallagher said.

As the article says, state funding will always be vital for Irish Sports, which is partially the reason why the Why Irish Sport Matters initiative was launched in the run up to the general election. Funding is received by clubs through fundraising events, National Lottery Grants and Local Council / Sports Partnership grants.  Success stories in sports other than rugby and football are on the rise in Ireland. For example, Irelands cricket team recently competed extremely well at the 2011 cricket world cup, Ireland has many talented athletes across a number of athletic events and Irish swimmers have had 27 swims ranked in the FINA World Masters Ranking  for 2010. Sarah O’Connor, CEO of the ISC says that each sport needs to begin to think together, not just to highlight their own success but to highlight the success of Irish sport.

‘‘All sports organisations here – including the major ones – could not survive without government funding, but I think they need to be more innovative now about how they generate that income,”.

‘‘Sports organisations need to come together themselves to highlight their achievements, instead of perhaps focusing singly on their own specific goals.”


I  agree with Sarah, sports should highlight the success of Irish Sports and look to companies and firms to sponsor them. Irish Gymnastics is on the up, lets hope it keeps that way. It’d be great to see an Irish gymnast competing high up in Worlds or Europeans. Funding is a must for gymnastics in Ireland. It will be interesting to see what changes will be made when Irish Gymnastics is rebranded and relaunched in Ireland in the coming months.

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