Satellite clubs to help development of gymnastics in Donegal

Donegal Mary, Hannah Ó Donnell, performing the official opening of the new satellite gymnastics club at Ionad Naomh Pádraig, Gweedore. Also included are Maighread Coyle, Tara Ní Dhonaill, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Gearóid Ó Smaoláin, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Micheál Ó Dochartaigh, Maggie Farrelly, Donegal Sports Partnership, Máire Uí Chomhaill, Ionad Naomh Pádraig, Fiona Murphy, Citadel, Marie Boyle, Aria Boyle, Anne Marie McCafferty and Cara, Citadel.

The development of gymnastics satellite clubs in Donegal in partnership with Citadel Gymnastics Club in Letterkenny is the latest initiative being rolled out under the North West Sporting Pathways Programme.

Donegal Sports Partnership (DSP) provided support to get the initiative up and running. Earlier this year it organised a coaching course delivered by Gymnastics Ireland to train up coaches from Gweedore and Ballyshannon to assist Citadel Gymnastics Club roll out the programme in their respected areas.

Maggie Farrelly, education and training coordinator with DSP, says the setting up of the satellite clubs is a major boost to gymnastics locally.

“With the support in place and having secured Ionad Naomh Padraig in Gweedore as our first satellite club through Mary Coyle, Citadel Gymnastics Club and the newly trained coaches from Gweedore delivered the first gymnastics session on Tuesday, July 9th at Ionad Naomh Padraig. The demand for places is huge and we wish Fiona and Louise from Citadel and Mary Coyle from Ionad Naomh every success going forward,” Maggie commented.

"The programme will also see a significant in investment in equipment to ensure that the it will be sustainable for the future in all satellite clubs," she added.

Mary Coyle explained that Ionad Naomh Pádraig is the locality’s most important physical asset.

“It enables the provision of a wide range of services and supports identified through a rigorous professional study and analysis of our community’s needs. The establishment of a gymnastics club here in Gweedore was highlighted as one of the main priorities in the Needs Assessment by members of the community,” she said.

“We also plan to maintain and develop our existing services in response to local needs, so that people in our community have access to as wide as possible a range of services despite the social, economic and infrastructural challenges that our rural community faces.”

Mary continued: “Our community centre building and facilities make it possible for our community, and particularly the most vulnerable individuals and groups in our community, to have access to the support services, experiences and opportunities for personal development and wellbeing that we can provide both on behalf of the State and at a more localised community-focused level.

“The provision of gymnastic classes, learning new skills in a rural area, through the medium of Irish in response to our Community’s needs.”

The nearest gymnastics club to Gweedore was in Letterkenny – this represented a 90 km trip to attend a class. Since the start of July, Gweedore is hosting its own gymnastics classes every Tuesday from 3 pm to 8 pm.

“Once we had identified the need, we secured funding under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) through Údarás na Gaeltachta and Donegal Local Community Development Committee, to purchase gymnastic equipment. We also succeeded to receive additional funding through the Sports Capital Programme to purchase extra equipment.

“I called in to see Fiona and Louise in Citadel to get some advice and that was a significant step in the right direction. We were also very fortunate that it was part of Donegal Sports Partnership’s plan to deliver Gymnastic classes throughout Donegal and provided us with much needed funds to help train coaches in Level 1 Coaching through Gymnastic Ireland. Without the support of Údarás na Gaeltachta through LEADER Funding, The help and guidance of Donegal Sports Partnership and Citadel, this can only be the start of a perfect partnership.”

Mary added: “It is of upmost importance to us to be able to deliver such a skilled sport through the medium of Irish.”