1200 primary school children get set to celebrate sport

Almost 500 primary school pupils from Ballymoney and surrounding areas joined Communities Minister Gordon Lyons today at the first of two activity days in a Celebration of Sport.

By Gordon Lyons MLA

East Antrim

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Now in its 10th year, the Celebration of Sport is a fantastic opportunity for young people to try out different sports and help them become ‘more active, more of the time’. This is also the first year that the Department for Communities has partnered with the Councils involved to offer a truly collaborative experience for the children attending.

Minister Lyons met with pupils, teachers, coaches and some of Northern Ireland’s top sports stars at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney and took part in some of the taster sessions available such as canoeing, cricket and wheelchair basketball.

Speaking at the event, Minister Lyons said: “Today has really proved how sport can be both inspiring and unifying and it is great to see so many local pupils enjoying new and established sports, aimed at all ages and abilities. As the Minister with responsibility for sport, I know how important it is for everyone to be more active and today is about giving young people the chance to try out a wide range of team sports and individual activities. It’s great to see the range on offer here today includes disabled sports, which are an integral part of the event.”

Stars from the Belfast Giants, Ulster Rugby, GAA and Irish Football Association attended the event along with some of Northern Ireland’s up-and-coming athletes.

The annual event promotes physical wellbeing and encourages young people of all abilities and from different backgrounds to participate in and appreciate the wider benefits of sport. Sessions included team sports such as football, rugby, Gaelic football and cricket as well as motocross, boccia, yoga and canoeing, giving pupils a chance to experience a host of sports during the day long event.

Minister Lyons added: “My department’s Active Living Strategy aims to grow participation through events like the Celebration of Sport, inspiring young people to take up a sport and encouraging regular physical activity from an early age. We know the positive mental and physical benefits of being part of a sports team or participating in an activity you enjoy can deliver. I am delighted to welcome local athletes at the top of their game who are joining in the celebration and inspiring the next generation to pursue their sporting dreams for many years to come.”

The event also featured a question-and-answer session with a panel of local athletes and coaches, including Greg Printz and Miles Gendron from the Belfast Giants, Northern Ireland football international Keri Halliday, rising Cricket Ireland star Kia McCartney and GAA’s Tony Scullion.

Next Friday (15 March) will see over 700 pupils from the Craigavon area experience the Celebration of Sport at the South Lakes Leisure Centre.

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