New Sports Action Plan aims for 40 per cent gender representation on boards

Plan outlines 43 specific initiatives in all, beginning with the sector’s continued recovery

Sports Minister Jack Chambers and Sports Ireland CEO John Treacy at the launch of the Sports Action Plan  Plan 2021-2023 in Dublin.  Photograph: Maxwells s

Sports Minister Jack Chambers and Sports Ireland CEO John Treacy at the launch of the Sports Action Plan Plan 2021-2023 in Dublin. Photograph: Maxwells s

 

Against the backdrop of an unspoken word of caution, the Government has published its Sports Action Plan for the period up to 2023, where among the seven key themes is the continued recovery from the sporting restrictions around Covid-19.

Despite there being no absolute guarantee some of those restrictions may not yet return, at least around spectator capacities, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers was optimistic about all components of the plan, including the need for all sport governing bodies to have a minimum of 40 per cent representation of each gender on the membership of each board by the end of 2023.

The plan outlines 43 specific initiatives in all, beginning with the sector’s continued recovery from the impact of Covid-19, plus its development and the actions required to achieve the target of 60 per cent of the population participating in sport and physical activity over the next three years.

Asked if there would be any incentive or indeed penalties around the reaching of that 40 per cent gender representation, Chambers said: “There is a carrot and there is a stick, and the carrot is that balanced sport leads to better decision making, and I think sporting organisations have to follow the leadership we’ve seen in many public organisations, but also in the private sector.

“There will be consequences for sporting organisations that don’t follow the 40 per cent target. They have two years now, of notice, to follow through on this target, and there will be consequences, in how we support these organisations, will be reflected by the end of 2023, if they don’t meet their target.”

Chambers also highlighted an increased Disability Sport fund that will be rolled out over the next two years aimed at tackling barriers to participation, along with an Inclusion, Diversity and Equality Fund: “I want to ensure we have a Sport for All approach. Through effective promotion and extra resources from dedicated funds, we can deliver the health and wellbeing benefits of sport and physical activity to more people of every age group, young and old.”

Extensive collaboration

The plan was developed following extensive collaboration with the sports sector and other stakeholders over the last two years to implement Sport Ireland’s High Performance strategy 2021-2032 so that elite athletes are fully prepared and resourced to compete successfully at international level.

The plan also includes the publication of a Major Events Strategy to bring international tournaments to Ireland, including the 2030 Fifa and T20 Cricket World Cups.

“We established a major events unit, around the time of the Rugby World Cup bid, and it’s to try to structure a policy, following a public consultation, on what type of bids Ireland wants to involve itself in, and look at the economic basis of that, what bids have the greatest impact on participation for sport, what bids have a broader value to the country and the people.”

Among the moves to enhance the sports sector’s recovery from Covid-19 is the development of a new annual Winter Initiative campaign, to encourage recovery of membership and participation in sports clubs.

Chambers also spoke about developing a national database of all sport and recreational facilities countrywide, that will make key information on sporting facilities accessible to all.

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