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Sports hardship fund to reopen in Northern Ireland to help clubs through coronavirus pandemic

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Support: Caral Ni Chuilin

Support: Caral Ni Chuilin

Support: Caral Ni Chuilin

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced that the Sports Hardship Fund will be reopening for sports clubs across Northern Ireland.

Clubs which are unable to receive grants through other means will be able to apply for up to £2,000 to help with their finances as grassroots sport continue to be hit by the global pandemic.

The fund had been open previously, and provided over £1million to more than 500 clubs to help them financially, however it was forced to be suspended after being over-subscribed.

Clubs that have previously received help from the hardship fund can apply again for up to £1,000 in additional support.

This latest round of funding is intended to primarily help clubs that will incur additional costs due to 'block booking' of facilities they hire in order to train or fulfil fixtures.

Due to Covid-19, facilities must be deep cleaned after use, which results in hire fees being higher, while restrictions on how many people can be in attendance has also led to reduced participation numbers.

"As some of the lockdown restrictions have eased, clubs have been able to resume their sports in a phased and sensible manner," said Ms Ní Chuilín.

"This grant will go a long way to support such clubs, which play a vital role in our communities in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, as they return to sport."

Sport NI's Antoinette McKeown claimed it is crucial that sports clubs be supported and financially backed by the hardship fund in order to survive for the wellbeing of local communities.

"As we move into the winter months, the sporting sector has told us that the hire of indoor facilities for training is another essential element which now needs to be considered for support," added McKeown.

"We want to ensure that sports clubs and organisations can continue to operate under Covid restrictions throughout the winter months."

Belfast Telegraph