Ireland’s sporting community lacks inclusivity, according to research published ahead of the Annual Federation of Irish Sport conference, set to take place on May 23.
Findings have highlighted significant under-representation in sports clubs, the Federation of Irish Sport has said that non-nationals were 61% less likely to be a member of a sports club or organisation than Irish players.
They have also raised concerns about participation rates among people on a lower income and those with disabilities, stating that while 43% of Irish adults participate in sport, the rate was 30% among those in the lowest income bracket and 23% of adults with disabilities.
The upcoming event will seek to challenge sporting bodies on their inclusivity record, urging them to make more efforts to include people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, members of the older generation and of the LGBT+ community.
Conference speakers include Gareth Thomas, former Wales rugby international and gay rights advocate, as well as Boidu Sayeh, a Liberian-born Westmeath GAA star.
The conference will take place in the wake of intersex runner Semenya losing her fight to compete in the Olympic games after officials have claimed that her high testosterone levels gave her an unfair advantage.
Federation of Irish Sport CEO, Mary O’Connor, has said:
“Sport isn’t just about All-Ireland glory, World Cup qualification or Olympic success.
“We all recognise the invaluable role it plays in bringing communities together, stimulating personal development and fostering greater social cohesion across society.
“While nearly half of Irish adults are involved in some level of sports participation, unfortunately these numbers drop off dramatically when it comes to the economically disadvantaged, adults with disabilities, ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, and ageing populations.”
The Irish National Youth Strategy for 2018-2020 published by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has echoed these statements:
“[We need to] develop a public recognition marker for sports clubs, cultural bodies, arts organisations, youth groups and businesses to declare their support for diversity, inclusion and visible representation of public support for members of the LGBT+ community.”
This year’s conference will take place on May 23 at Dublin City University, tickets are €45 and can be secured on their website.
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