Award-winning sports programme at Cork Prison returns for fifth year 

Sports Development Officer, Kirby said the programme is very popular.
Award-winning sports programme at Cork Prison returns for fifth year 

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Cork Sports Partnership has launched the fifth year of its award-winning sports programme in Cork Prison.

The programme, in conjunction with Cork Prison Services, has been running since 2016, with a two-year break due to Covid, and is the recipient of the Irish Institute of Training and Development award in 2018 as well as being nominated in the European Sports Awards.

Sports Development Officer of Cork Sports Partnerships James Kirby had this to say about the initiative: “It’s a 12-week programme and we do two weeks per sport. So, we have Basketball Ireland for the first two weeks then Munster Rugby, the FAI, The Cara Centre who do the disability-inclusive training, Cork GAA, as well as other big sporting bodies and a few ad-hoc programmes involved also.” 

Each year, 14 participants are handpicked from the prison to participate in the sports programme. The basis on which inmates are selected is based on good behaviour and is designed to encourage this within the prison.

Sports Development Officer, Kirby said the programme is very popular.  "It's all about promoting good behaviour and willingness to learn. As well, it is rewarding the inmates who are actively engaged within the prison services, whether it be in arts, cooking skills or other training areas inside.” “It's an outlet for the inmates to be able to learn and to increase that capacity for learning across a new field.” The initiative began in 2016 with the addition of a new sports hall in Cork Prison and an effort to utilize this facility by reaching out to engage with different organisations.

“Cork Sports Partnership’s involvement in the prison started when Colm Carey, the Resettlement Coordinator in Cork Prison, completed one of our sports coaching programmes,” 

“Colm saw the benefit of it and wanted to replicate our community sports programme that was run for job seekers back in 2015 and 2016,”

the development officer explained.

Cork Local Sports Partnership CLG was established as part of a national network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships targeted to help people to get active and removes barriers to participation in sport and physical activity for all.

The work of Cork Sports Partnership is driven by a dedicated team and guided by a Board of Directors from different stakeholder organisations in Cork as well as a number of policies and plans.

These include the National Sports Policy 2018 – 2027, the National Physical Activity Plan, the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity, as well as the Cork Sports Partnership Active Cork 2018 – 2022 Strategic Plan.

“We work with around 13 different national government bodies for sports-specific programmes. We work with community programmes and do a lot of projects with the HSE and Slainte Care,” Kirby told.

The organisation also works alongside education training boards, clubs and schools to highlight the benefit of physical activity.

“We have a very broad remit of people we work with, from children, teenagers, minority groups, older adults, men and women in disadvantaged areas and so on. Our target covers cradle to grave really.”

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