Northern Ireland news

GAA and soccer chiefs welcome funding for schools coaching scheme

Coaches from both the GAA and IFA deliver the health and wellbeing programme

ULSTER GAA and the Irish Football Association have welcomed funding to keep a coaching scheme for schoolchildren running.

Money for the Curriculum Sports Programme, which involves Gaelic and soccer coaches visiting primary schools, was due to run out this month.

Extra cash has been found, however, allowing it to continue until October.

Ulster GAA provides 25 coaches, and the IFA 28, to work with about 40,000 children in 450 schools a year. About £1.3m is spent by the Department of Education annually.

The department wrote to the IFA and GAA to advise them that it was in a position to offer each organisation funding of up to £375,000 to continue to deliver the programme until October 31.

Ulster GAA chief executive Brian McAvoy said the benefits of the programme were wide ranging and introduced children to many fundamental skills.

"Ulster GAA and the Irish FA coaches are playing a key role in assisting the department deliver on their strategic priorities and we look forward to working with the department and the schools in our ongoing delivery of the programme," he said.

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson welcomed the new funding.

"These primary school coaches work in communities across Northern Ireland and teach children from P1-P3 the basic fundamental movement skills required for running, jumping and catching," he said.

"The children that benefit from this programme go on to play a wide variety of sports including football and gaelic games. The Irish FA and Ulster GAA coaches involved in this programme provide a vital service both for the schools and for broader society."

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