Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has highlighted the important role played by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in schools and the wider community.
He was speaking following a meeting with representatives of the Ulster GAA. The Minister said: “The GAA plays a crucial role in the sporting, educational, cultural and economic life of our community. It provides our young people with an interest in sport, with an enthusiasm for their Gaelic culture, a sense of purpose and national identity.
"Sport can have a major and positive impact on children and young people in our schools. An early interest in sport can not only help to tackle and prevent obesity, but it also helps children focus better during class time. In recognition of this, my Department introduced the Curriculum Sports Programme for primary schools in 2007 to help improve the health and wellbeing of our children and encourage them to embrace a healthy lifestyle from a young age.
“This meeting provided me with an opportunity to hear more about the very valuable work the GAA are carrying out in our schools. They, along with the Irish Football Association (IFA), are playing a vital role in delivering the Curriculum Sports Programme. It is currently operating in over 500 schools and is being delivered by 53 coaches to over 33,000 primary school children. That is a fantastic achievement and I commend the great work being done by both the GAA and IFA in our schools.
“I also welcome the fact that as a result of funding announced earlier this year by my predecessor, Caitríona Ruane, the IFA and GAA can continue this excellent work for four more years, ensuring that even more local children can improve their fundamental skills and keep active.”
The Minister concluded: “My Department will continue to work closely with the GAA and IFA over the next four years and I look forward to visiting many of the schools involved in the Curriculum Sports Programme to see for myself the positive impact it is having on many children’s lives.”