A Millennium Year for Youth Sport
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of officially opening the NI Millennium Youth Games at the Mary Peters Track in June. More recently I hosted a reception at Stormont for the 107 young people and their parents, coaches and managers who had participated in the UK Finals in Southampton in August.
The young people at both events were an obvious credit to both their parents and the sport they represented. The enjoyment they are getting from sport is obvious when speaking to these young people. Coming from all parts of NI and from various communities they have struck up friendships and have been motivated to take part in sport and to push themselves to new levels within that sport.
Youth Sport is breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for young people to participate in sport irrespective of their ability, age, disability, race, religion or economic circumstance. Last year over 30,000 young people participated in after school programmes and with structures in place across all of the Education and Library Boards the potential obviously exists to significantly increase these opportunities.
The Department of Culture, Leisure and Arts is committed to increasing these opportunities and will work with the partners involved to ensure this happens.
I would congratulate everyone involved in all aspects of the Youth Sport Programme, teachers, coaches, sports development officers, administrators and the young people themselves and hop that they continue to enjoy their participation for many years to come.
Michael McGimpsey, MLA
Minister for Sport