Ever wondered what makes Ireland’s sporting legends so truly great? How many hours they put in at the gym, how strenuous their typical training session is, or whether their sporting prowess is multi-faceted – could our top sprinters, for instance, bench press as much as you?
Well, turns out, you could well be able to see all these secrets of the trade for yourself up close and personal. Many of the nation’s top athletes can be found slogging it out in one Dublin venue that’s open to the public!
Sport Ireland Campus, located in Blanchardstown, have launched their ‘Here We Go’ campaign to raise national awareness of the world-class facilities they have, but that many people may not have realised are so readily available. Now, people of any age and all levels of sporting abilities are being urged to pop in for a visit, and experience the home of Irish sport.
The beauty of the Sport Ireland Campus is that there’s truly a place for everyone. While the Campus is perhaps best known for hosting some of Ireland’s most prestigious sporting bodies, from the IRFU, to the FAI, Swim Ireland and international teams such as the All Blacks, it’s not a place where sporting amateurs or new beginners will ever be left to feel imitated or out of their depths.
Even the most budding of sports stars are catered for at Sport Ireland Campus through a variety of kids camps and academy classes for children and adults. The Campus’ inclusive programmes, meanwhile, ensure that people recovering from chronic illness or athletes with disabilities also have all the support, training and facilities that they need to reach their full potential.
This support from the Sport Ireland Campus isn’t just for paying members, however. It extends throughout the entire Blanchardstown community, as many local groups and businesses have benefitted from school tours, parties, facility rentals, team-building events, and corporate conferences and exhibitions in the Olympian-standard Campus.
For many of these groups, one of their highlights from trips to the Campus is seeing the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre, which attracts over one million visitors a year and may be recognisable to some for the many televised national and international events that it’s hosted. Ireland’s most high-performance athletes train here, as well as grassroot and adult ‘Learn to Swim’ academies, diving academies, school programmes, and just families looking for a splash about and some fun. The NAC is a particular hit with families thanks to its kid-friendly AquaZone waterpark and a high-spec gym for parents, Sport Ireland Campus Fitness, which welcomes all fitness levels.
For those diving-loving visitors who want to increase their skills and fun, the Campus’ National Diving Training Centre is where Ireland’s top divers as well as Diving Academy and camp participants practise and perfect their technique outside of the pool, using high spec trampoline and tumbling areas. It also doubles as an excellent training centre for gymnastics and gymnastics birthday parties.
Another must-see on the Campus is the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena, which houses a number of different sports including athletics, field sports (rugby, soccer, GAA), gymnastics, basketball, badminton, martial arts and more. This accessible, multi-purpose arena was built to the highest world-class standards, so be prepared to bump into a few famous faces! It’s frequently used by Ireland’s most high-performance athletes, clubs and sporting bodies, as well as the general public. The centrepiece of the building is a 200-metre indoor running track, used for athletics training, competitions and a variety of other sports.
The Campus is also home to the IRFU High Performance Centre, the GAA National Games Development Centre, the FAI National Training Centre and the Sport Ireland National Gymnastics Training Centre, a bespoke facility containing all the equipment needed for elite performers, academies, camps, school and corporate team-building events. The 10 multi-sport synthetic pitches on the Campus also cater for the national hockey team training and provide all-weather pitches for local soccer and GAA teams.
As well as sweating it out in the many fitness and training facilities there, many people use the venue for admin purposes. Over 25 national governing bodies have offices located in the Sport Ireland Campus, in the Irish Sport HQ and in individual offices. This close-knit arrangement facilitates collaboration and cooperation between the different sporting codes in Ireland.
The list of facilities is endless. Other highlights include the Olympic-standard National Horse Sport Arena, the Sport Ireland National Cross-Country Track, the National Modern Pentathlon Centre, the Cricket Ireland High Performance Training Centre, and a Cyclocross Skills Zone. Outside of these facilities, meanwhile, over 500 acres of walking and running routes, forest paths, and a 2. 5k loop with outdoor fitness and sports equipment can be enjoyed by all.
The variety of what’s on offer at the Sport Ireland Campus, and the standard of facilities available there, is something that has to be seen to be believed. Sport Ireland Campus COO Michael Murray says anyone interested should come witness it for themselves; “All of us at Sport Ireland Campus are incredibly proud of the central position we hold as the home of Irish Sport, but it’s a position we hold for good reason. Our Here We Go campaign is a reminder to Irish people of why we hold that title, thanks to our state of the art facilities that are renowned internationally. Most of all, we want to let people know that those facilities are open to them, whoever they may be and however fit they are or are not. I encourage everyone to find out more about the Campus and to see how they can take part in some of the world-class programmes available.”
Echoing Mr. Murray's comments, Ireland and Leinster rugby player Caelan Doris said: “The facilities at the Sport Ireland Campus really are world class and it’s always exciting to train and prepare here for the big stage. I’d recommend everyone to learn more and see how they can get involved”
Here We Go… wherever you are on your journey, find out more at www.sportirelandcampus.ie.