Sport Ireland is proud to announce the launch of the new ESF+ programme, titled 'Sport 4 Empowerment', which aims to promote social inclusion and empower individuals through sport and physical activity.
The ‘Sport 4 Empowerment’ programme was launched at the Sport Ireland Campus today by the Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD.
This exciting new initiative is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union and is made possible by the €11million grant awarded to Sport Ireland from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) programme.
Under the Employment, Inclusion, Skills, and Training (EIST) Programme 2021 – 2027, Sport Ireland's 'Sport 4 Empowerment' programme is listed under the Social Innovation Pillar. The main objective of this pillar is to foster active inclusion and ensure equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and active participation while improving employability, particularly for disadvantaged groups.
The 'Sport 4 Empowerment' (S4E) programme aims to develop innovative social inclusion programmes through the use of sport and physical activity, with a specific focus on individuals at risk of social exclusion and poverty. Sport Ireland’s network of Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) will play a key role in the programme and are deeply involved in the design and delivery of local initiatives that will meet the specific needs of the target groups. The programme will see the phased employment of newly created ESF+ Social Innovation in Sport Officer positions within LSPs.
In 2023, seven LSPs will receive funding for these positions. Laois, Limerick and Clare have all recruited the new position with Kildare, Donegal, Roscommon and Carlow expected to recruit in the coming weeks.
In 2024, the following 11 LSPs Roscommon, Cavan, Cork, Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Sligo, South Dublin, Tipperary, Waterford, will receive funding for the new positions.
In 2025, the following 11 LSPs Dublin City, Dublin Fingal, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Westmeath, Wexford, and Wicklow will receive funding for the new positions.
By 2025, Sport Ireland aims to have an ESF+ Social Innovation in Sport Officer across all 29 LSPs in their network.
The 'Sport 4 Empowerment' programme will pilot and implement a variety of targeted and innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing the wellbeing, education, and economic prospects of the participants. The programme will support individuals at risk of social exclusion and poverty including the following groups ethnic minorities, youth at risk, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Sport Ireland would like to acknowledge that this project is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union, demonstrating the commitment of both entities in promoting social inclusion and empowering individuals through sport.
Commenting on the launch Minister Thomas Byrne TD said
“This joint investment by the Irish Government and the European Union will build upon the significant funding that has already been allocated towards promoting social inclusion and empowering individuals through sport. As a Government, we are striving to make sport more accessible for all and I am pleased that this funding will focus on particular target groups including ethnic minorities, youth at risk, persons with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Minister Simon Harris TD added
"Sport has always been a catalyst for social inclusion and I'm delighted my Department of Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science is directly involved in this project. It's great to see this initiative come through and I have no doubt it will present vulnerable people from disadvantaged groups with huge opportunities."
Dr Una May said
“We were thrilled to secure this funding from the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) which will help us to bring the benefits of sport and physical activity to more people. Our vision is for an active Ireland where everyone can enjoy the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity. The 'Sport 4 Empowerment' (S4E) programme aligns with our ongoing work to develop a sport sector that celebrates diversity, promotes inclusion, and is pro-active in providing opportunities for lifelong participation for everyone. We are grateful for the support of the network of Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) in the delivery of this programme."
About the European Social Fund Plus
The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the EU's main instrument for investing in people, focusing on improving employment and education opportunities as well as enhancing social inclusion and tackling poverty.
The ESF+ is implemented by Member States in partnership with the European Commission. The ESF+ Managing Authority in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has responsibility for implementation of the ESF+ in Ireland.
ESF+ funding is allocated over 7 year programming periods aligned to the EU’s Multi-Annual Financial Framework.
For the 2021-2027 period, the ESF has been merged with the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) and the directly managed Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Programme, to become the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).
Ireland’s ESF+ allocation for 2021-27 is €508 million in current prices