outdoor sports funding

The future of outdoor sport funding in Northern Ireland

10th December 2015

The future of outdoor sport funding in Northern Ireland – 5 key learnings

outdoor sports funding

A recent workshop organised by Sport NI provided an excellent insight into the immediate funding opportunities for outdoor sports’ funding in Northern Ireland.

Insightful presentations were provided by SportNI, Heritage Lottery Fund, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Waterways Ireland.  

Whilst the workshop was tailored towards the outdoor National Governing Bodies of Sport, a lot of useful information relevant to those involved across outdoor recreation was provided.

With so much information given over the course of the morning – I have summed up 5 key learnings:

  1. Engage with your local council

Following the Review of Public Administration (RPA), Northern Ireland’s new 11 ‘super councils’ have taken on new responsibilities including ‘community planning’ with a view to improving public services and making them more responsive to the needs of local communities.

The Councils’ ‘Community Plans’ will be used as a key reference for many of the funding programmes in particular the Rural Development Programme.  Individual council websites will have information on how you can engage with community planning.

Several programmes within Sport NI’s ‘Everybody Active 2016 -2020’ fund will be delivered by local councils, for example, each council will decide how to spend the funding to meet their targets within the £6m ‘Opportunities’ Programme.  The £6m Sport NI ‘Multi-Facility Fund’ will also align to council area facility plans due to be finalised by March 2016.  Engaging with Council Sports Development Officers is therefore key.

  1. Focus on getting the inactive active

Sport NI is in the final steps of preparing its ‘Everybody Active 2016-2020’ fund.  This £14m fund aims to increase the opportunities for targeting groups to develop and sustain participation in sport across key life-course transitions.  The programme is specifically targeting:

  • People with a disability (all ages)
  • Women (>16 years old)
  • Older people (drop-off marked from mid-40s onwards)
  • Most economically disadvantaged

A key emphasis is encouraging the ‘inactive to become active’ rather than encouraging those that are ‘already active to become more active’.

  1. Heritage can link to sport

The Heritage Lottery Fund might not necessarily be the first organisation that you would consider when looking for sport related funding but it’s definitely worth considering.

Perhaps you could apply to educate people on the heritage of your sport or use sport as a conduit to helping people engage with an area’s heritage, for example, along a canoe trail.

  1. Talk is cheap – focus on the detail

A key theme across all the presentations was the need for detail within your application, for example don’t just say your programme will ‘engage with local primary schools’, provide information on which primary schools you will engage with, the name of the principal, the age group involved, outline how it links to the syllabus etc.

  1. Waterways Ireland – Act Now

Waterways Ireland’s Sponsorship Programme is currently open for applications but the deadline of 3pm on 16th December 2015 is quickly approaching.

The programme aims to increase awareness of Waterways Ireland and promote the use of the waterways.

Outscape is excited by the upcoming funding opportunities and looks forward to working with our partners and clients to secure funding for further outdoor recreation projects.

Blog by:


Chris Scott
Business Development Manager