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Communities Minister launches public consultation on a new Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity

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woman holding tennis ball and racket

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has launched an eight week public consultation on a new Strategy for Sport and Physical Activity.

Minister Hargey said, “We want to produce a strategy for sport and physical activity that is ambitious, has been co-designed and takes account of the wide range of views.  We need to ensure we can return to sport safely in the near future as we begin to navigate our way out of Covid, and we need to rebuild and plan for the long-term future of sport.

“I am delighted that through our stakeholder engagement the voices of those living in poverty, who have been marginalised or excluded, those who have not been habitually active and also those of many young people, have been heard and the important issues they have indicated are reflected within the consultation document.”

She continued: “The Covid crisis will have a significant impact on the way forward and I recognise that any strategy for sport and physical activity will have to reflect the changing landscape and the need for a period of recovery, reset and possibly restructuring across the sector.

“We want everyone to have a say in the new strategy as it will set out the direction for the future of sport and physical activity promoting inclusion, equality and sustained further growth in lifelong participation, enjoyment and competitive success. Our ultimate aim is to make more people, more active, more of the time.”

A new strategy will provide an opportunity to highlight the roles of sport and physical activity which contribute to the long term health and well-being of the population. It must reflect the growing awareness of the significant contribution that sport can make to improving society in areas such as community cohesion, public health and mental wellbeing, education and skills, tackling social deprivation and contributing to a vibrant social and economic environment.

This follows extensive stakeholder engagement during 2020 which, despite Covid, attracted a significant response from many who have an interest in sport and physical activity but also from those who currently have a more sedentary lifestyle.

The new strategy will replace the current ‘Sport Matters’ Strategy, which was endorsed by the Executive in 2009, and will encourage recovery and resilience across the sports and physical activity sector that will be crucial as the community in the north strives to emerge from the pandemic.

The consultation runs from today and can be accessed online at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/consultations/consultation-new-strategy-sport-and-physical-activity

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