GAA announces £1m project to promote sport across Belfast
The GAA has unveiled its £1m plan to strengthen and promote Gaelic games across Belfast.
'Gaelfast' is a five-year project that represents the biggest ever non-capital initiative by the GAA in Northern Ireland.
It will place expert coaches to schools across Belfast in order to promote the ethos of the GAA.
This will be in addition to the ongoing facilities developments for Gaelic games within the city, brought about through Belfast City Council's partnership with the GAA that began three years ago.
Gaelfast will start in September and will initially see around 20 schools across Belfast taking part. Coaches will be in the schools one day per week and the scheme will be overseen by a Belfast regeneration manager.
GAA president John Horan said the association is in "excellent health" across Ulster and Gaelfast will help increase GAA participation in the city.
"The GAA's roots are in communities across Ireland and the key to strengthening that relationship and ensuring the future successes of the GAA is working with young people and ensuring the next generation are involved with Gaelic games," he added.
"This five-year plan is the most comprehensive ever developed for Belfast and builds on the expertise within the GAA in order to give coaching to children and to assist schools with their involvement with the GAA.
"Belfast has a rich history of Gaelic games and this plan aims to build on that and further promote the GAA across the city."
Colin Donnelly, chairman of Antrim GAA, said Belfast is a "sleeping giant" when it comes to Gaelic games and this initiative will provide "real impetus" for their growth.
"This is a direct, hands-on approach which builds from the grass roots up and both the Antrim County Board and the Down County Board are delighted to be running the programme and delighted with the support we have received from the GAA nationally, provincially and indeed from Belfast City Council," he said.
Belfast's Lord Mayor, Nuala McAllister, said projects like this help promote the council's commitment to positive health and well-being.
"As a city, we also have thriving sports clubs and participation programmes that engage people in sport and physical activity," she added.
"With Belfast City Council investing £105m in the leisure transformation programme to fund new leisure centres, we really are going to change the face of leisure in the city. Initiatives such as this will also help."