The Chairman for the Northern Ireland Sports Forum Roy Millar MBE, has warned that the impact of cutting Sports budget will not only see a reduction on Northern Ireland’s medal hopes at major competitions but will also be detrimental to health and wellbeing as well as building communities.
NI Sports Forum is the recognised umbrella organisation for the voluntary sector of sport in Northern Ireland and operates as the voice of voluntary sport. Millar, the former Technical Director of the IFA believes that the proposed 11.2% cut to Sport NI’s budget will be a massive blow that will impact not just the sporting sector but also health and social development. “Sport is a strong vehicle in uniting communities, it improves physical and mental health and the impact of cuts on the sports budget will hinder our athlete’s performances”.
Millar also stated his concern to medal contenders ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. “Our medal winning athletes have stated how the support services from the Sports Institute have greatly improved their training and medal prospects. On the back of a successful Commonwealth Games in Glasgow we must ensure that we have more medallists at Rio and also in the Gold Coast in 2018. We can’t aspire to improve while cutting our support services to elite athletes”.
Recent research has shown that 89% of the public believe that it is important that athletes and teams from Northern Ireland achieve international success and 85% believe that sports events project a positive image of the region. Nine in ten participants of sport in Northern Ireland agree that sport has enabled them to mix with people from different religions, age groups, neighbourhoods and social groups. Millar believes these statistics prove the power of sport. “Unfortunately some areas of our community are still segregated however there are many sports organisations who are using the power of sport to unite our communities. We are a proud sporting nation and we have shown how many sports such as boxing, rugby and athletics with their successes have united the community. If budget cuts to sport are severe then unfortunately many community development projects will fall”.
Millar has also cited pressures on health services have shown why sport is a great example of prevention being better than a cure and would save huge time and resources for the NHS. “Evidence is conclusive that regular physical activity is effective in the prevention of premature death and the prevention of chronic diseases. Exercise also can be as effective as anti-depressants for those with mild clinical depression while elderly people with low physical activity levels have more than twice the risk of Alzheimer’s”. The Northern Ireland Sports Forum have launched a petition against the budget cuts to sport which can be found here and Millar believes it is very important that organisation’s and individuals respond to the DCAL consultation which is open until December 29th.
Pictured- Triple Paralympic Gold Medalist supporting NISF petition against Sports Budget Cuts with Gordon Reid, Vice Chair, Ciaran Kearney Executive Manager and Richard Johnson Treasurer of NISF