The Northern Ireland Sports Forum is saddened that today (14th December) will see the end of the award winning Curriculum Schools Programme which has been delivered by the Irish Football Association and Ulster GAA since 2007.
Almost 50 jobs will be lost as a result of the closure of this programme which will be a huge blow to staff, pupils and schools across Northern Ireland. Over the last 11 years, the coaches employed by the IFA and Ulster GAA have made a lasting imprint on the lives of many children in our schools. In that time approximately 40,000 children per year have benefitted from the programme which has won awards and plaudits locally and internationally.
Research from the University College London in 2017 revealed that 20% of 14-year-olds in the UK are obese, and a further 15% were deemed to be overweight – a total of 35% but in Northern Ireland, that rises to 40%. The British Medical Association only last month stated about 63% of the population here are overweight with around 25% are obese. This can lead to a whole range of lifelong health conditions including hypertension, diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
The introduction of the Sugar Tax Levy will see Northern Ireland receive £12.3m in 2018/19 and £15m in 2019/20. Unfortunately this money cannot be allocated to programmes to alleviate obesity due to a lack of an Executive as the money cannot be allocated specifically for individual purposes to a Department.
The NI Sports Forum is encouraged that Ulster GAA and the IFA are looking at ways to re-introduce the scheme in the future and we offer our continued support to our member organisations to address these concerns in the hope that funding allocation will, in the future be reinstated.
The lack of an Executive continues to have a massive impact on the sporting sector including the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games, closures to Outdoor Education Centres, Road Closures Order, the future of Casement Park, lack of representation on the Board of UK Sport amongst many issues and hope that an Executive can be re-established in early 2019 for the benefit of all citizens.