Donegal Sports Partnership Coordinator, Myles Sweeney
Individuals, community groups, sports clubs and sporting organisations across Donegal are being invited to participate in Donegal Sports Partnership's community consultation online survey which was launched this week.
The findings of the questionnaire will be incorporated into the new Active Donegal Strategic Plan 2022-2025 which is scheduled to be published at the end of 2021.
Encouraging people from all sectors of society to take a short time to complete the survey, Donegal Sports Partnership Coordinator, Myles Sweeney said: "It's important that people have their say in the future of Donegal Sports Partnership and this questionnaire is the ideal way for them to do that. A working group is developing the Active Donegal Strategic Plan 2022-2025, and the feedback we get from our communities will present us with some ideas to integrate within the strategic plan framework. It's up to us then to generate enough resources and funding to develop programmes for the communities."
"It is also our intention to provide focus groups with specific target groups to compliment the community consultation and to ensure we have as broad a response as possible. We want the new strategic plan for the next four years to be as inclusive as possible."
"We are also conscious of the changing demographics in the county, and the fact that we now have a very different and diverse Donegal. It's very much a changing county when it comes to population and we want through the various representative groups to engage. We have also reviewed our old strategy - we looked at what went well during the period from 2015 to 2019, and what could have worked better and have carried some ideas forward to include in our new strategy”
"Regardless if people are involved in or have an interest in sport or not, we are keen to get their views. Those who are walking, running, cycling and swimming are aware of the physical and mental benefits of being active. However, we are keenly aware of those people who are not active and perhaps aren't aware of the benefits, so we are keen to hear from as well," he added.
Commenting on the Active Donegal Strategic Plan 2022-205, Mr Sweeney said: "Retaining our active pillars - Active Communities, Active Sports, Active Schools and Active Partnerships - is the organisation's focus, over the years these pillars have provided the DSP with a clear focus to deliver on our main objectives which are growing participation in sport and physical activity across communities in Donegal, especially for those marginalised and disadvantaged, and providing education and training opportunities to build sports capacity."
"New themes agreed for the next plan are inclusivity, accessibility and the natural environment. Among the areas emerging are awareness of changing demographics, new communities, blended training, sustainability of investment, community mental health, linking capital investment in sport with participation sport, and growing the Donegal Sports Partnership membership."
The coordinator said a lot of uncertainty remains around the impact the pandemic has had on sport locally and nationally.
"Because of that, we are looking at how we can adapt and best respond to the many challenges as a result of Covid-19 including programme development, volunteering in sport, health and safety, capacity building, facilities and equipment."
He continued: "Brexit has also challenged us in terms of our cross-border programmes and we are keen that that cross-border element would be strengthened with our regional partner agencies all across the North West of Ireland."
Encouraging people to take part in the survey, Donegal Sports Partnership Chairperson, Anne McAteer, sai d the organisation seeks to serve all communities in the county.
"Inclusion has been a strong theme running through earlier strategies and every effort is made to meet the needs of minority sports as well as the larger and more popular sports. The community consultation offers opportunities for individuals and groups to identify what their sport or particular physical activity needs in terms of support from Donegal Sports Partnership," she added.
"We are planning for a future which is significantly different as we emerge from Covid. Sport and physical activity contributed significantly to our well-being throughout the pandemic. Many people took up new outdoor pursuits over the past eighteen months and we are keen to support our clubs in welcoming in new people and improving the provision to existing members.
"As our coordinator states, we welcome views across the generations and from as many diverse backgrounds as possible including schools, day services for older people, disability groups, Traveller and Roma and new communities. The partner organisations including ETB, HSE, and Gardai may also like to reflect on where the strategy could enhance the work they are engaged in. I'd encourage people to take this opportunity to make your voice heard and represent your interest in sport and physical activity."
Donegal Local Sports Partnership Company was established in 2001 to coordinate the development of sport and physical activity in County Donegal. This has been achieved through the dual objectives of developing programmes to increase participation rates, especially by hard-to-reach groups and through the provision of high-quality training and coach education programmes.
DSP, through the Active Donegal brand, is supported and governed by a board of directors and has a staff of six full-time posts and six part-time posts, as well as a number of trained tutors to deliver its participation and education and training programmes. An inter-agency and multi-sectoral organisation, it has representatives from all the main statutory agencies and the community and voluntary sector.
DSP's Strategic Plan Working Group includes board directors Dr Martin Gormley, Donegal ETB, Donegal County Councillor, Anthony Molloy, Kathleen Bonner, Seamus Campbell, Siobhan Cullen, LYIT, Myles Sweeney, Coordinator/CEO Donegal Sports Partnership and Deirdre O'Toole, Senior Administrator, Donegal Sports Partnership.
Claire McDonough is the strategic plan facilitator, while the community consultation phase is being led out by Eamon Seydak from Sector Three Solutions.
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