Community Games in North a 'priority'

Dancer Chloe Keegan in this picture by Aidan Melia which was the winner of an award for the 'best action shot' presented by the HSE Community Games at its annual conference in Tullamore, Co Offaly tonight. Photograph: Aidan Melia

Dancer Chloe Keegan in this picture by Aidan Melia which was the winner of an award for the 'best action shot' presented by the HSE Community Games at its annual conference in Tullamore, Co Offaly tonight. Photograph: Aidan Melia

Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 00:00

The re-establishment of the Community Games across Northern Ireland is to be one of the major priorities of the coming year, games president Gerry Davenport said in Tullamore this evening.

Mr Davenport also revealed the organisation has been invited to take part in sporting festivals in Britain and Denmark and is working on an initiative with the International Sport and Culture Association elsewhere in Europe.

Speaking at the HSE Community Games 42nd Annual General Meeting in Tullamore Co. Offaly Mr Davenport said the Community Games were going through a period of much change, and the situation in Northern Ireland required urgent attention. He said the development of the community games there would be a priority of the governing board in 2013.

Mr Davenport who is unopposed for re-election as president said there would always be a place for volunteers in the community games but their contribution and individual commitment must be recognised and rewarded. “The enormous benefits that accrue to society in general, from the work of individuals who take on voluntary roles in organisations such as ours, is inestimable,” he said.

In the coming year the community games organisation has been invited to get involved in a youth training programme in Birmingham and a sports festival in Denmark. Mr Davenport said the events could be used “to give an opportunity to the children who do not qualify for our national finals”.

The Community Games organisation has also signed up to a European programme in association with the International Sport and Culture Association which will offer local groups the opportunity to participate internationally during the coming year. Mr Davenport said more details of this would be "rolled out" in the months ahead.

But he said the organisation would have to look at the format of the national finals at home to recreate the festival of sport atmosphere. “There is far too much emphasis on winning, our ethos is about participation rather than competition. We should expand the round robin format which will give every competitor more involvement throughout the weekends” he said.

Mr Davenport added the organisation was indebted to the Health Service Executive and the Irish Sports Council whose continued support was “vital” . He also thanked the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and in particular Minister for Sport Michael Ring.