Fianna Fáil Press Office
Cllr Deirdre Heney
Dublin Bay North

07 February 2016

Government has no plan for boosting participation in sports – Heney

Fianna Fáil candidate for Dublin Bay North Cllr Deirdre Heney maintains that the government has no plan for boosting participation in sport especially among young females.

“It is an unfortunate situation that from Gaelic games to soccer, rowing, basketball, golf and other sports, many more resources are dedicated to support and develop the sporting skills of male athletes than their female counterparts.

“It is extremely worrying from the point of view of Public Health, that young women show much lower activity levels and participation in sport than young men, with only 43% of 16 to 25 year old females playing a sport compared to 63% males.

“While participation rates in Sport are almost at parity for younger children – both male and female – from adolescence onward we see a massive disparity opening up.

“I believe this situation has much to do with the poor level of physical education and sports participation in many schools. We are rated as 3rd worst amongst all EU countries for primary level physical education and 7th worst for second level. In many schools and clubs at a certain age, during adolescence, girls are being turned off sports.

“We need an ambitious policy for addressing the drop-out of girls from sports. Fianna Fáil will develop a National Sports Masterplan for re-balancing both current and capital investment in sports, to ensure that systematic inequalities in funding and resources for the development of female athletes at both elite and lower levels across a range of sports is corrected.

“To increase activate participation among all young people, we will make 2 hours Physical Activity mandatory in schools, which will include PE as well as new intra-curricular Sports Classes.

“At present, PE at Primary level is too variable across schools and depends upon the willingness and ability of individual teachers and/or the facilities available. PE teachers are a rarity within Primary Schools, and we will establish a network of professional PE teachers, to be shared between schools, to work with teachers in developing PE schedules and plans for within primary schools.

“In secondary schools we will impose a requirement of two hours mandatory physical activity per week. As well as including PE classes for developing basic physical literacy among teenagers, we will introduce new Sports Classes.

“Sports Classes offer a unique strategy for re-engaging students – including adolescent females – who may have given up on physical activity through lack of interest in existing sports on offer.

“Such intra-curricular sports classes have been introduced to good effect in other countries.

“These classes can be composed of more varied individual and niche sports or physical activities (such as dancing), expanding the choice of physical pursuits in schools beyond the traditional team sports environments which, according to the Irish Sports Monitor, are not as attractive to females in this age group.