Disability Sport NI has welcomed the £1 million four-year investment in disability sport announced on Wednesday by the Department for Communities through Sport NI.
Speaking at the announcement Chief Executive Kevin O’Neill said: “We are simply delighted. It is fitting that this funding is being awarded on the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Rio. Northern Ireland has nine athletes competing in the Games, the most ever from Northern Ireland and we are immensely proud of all of them. “
“This funding will secure our future for the next four years, allowing us to help continue to develop elite athletes and also, just as importantly, introduce more and more people with disabilities to the joy of taking part in sport.”
The investment also included Department for Communities funding for new sports chairs to facilitate the inclusion of wheelchair users in competitive sport.
Currently people with disabilities are less than half as likely to participate in sport as non-disabled people. Disability Sport NI addresses that by providing opportunities for all to get involved in sport and active recreation regardless of their disability. It also works with coaches, governing bodies and clubs to identify and support the development of elite Paralympians who go on to compete for either Ireland or Great Britain.
The investment, which was announced by the Minister for Communities, Paul Givan MLA, coincided with the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil where nine Northern Irish athletes are competing for both Paralympics Ireland and Paralympics GB.
As part of the launch of the welcome investment at Girdwood Community Hub in North Belfast, members of the under 19 Northern Ireland squad put on an impressive Wheelchair Basketball demonstration.
Caption: Disability Sport NI CEO, Kevin O’Neill and Sport NI Director of Participation John News and members of the under 19 Northern Ireland Wheelchair Basketball team pictured at the announcement this week.