Sport Ireland has partnered with Get Ireland Walking and six National Governing Bodies of Sport, to see sports facilities with walking paths open their gates, from April 26th, to support looking after people’s wellbeing and especially their mental health at this time.
Over the last number of years hundreds of GAA clubs up and down the country have turned on the lights on their walkways to facilitate walkers during the winter months. This year, a significant number of GAA clubs will once again support the initiative. They will be joined by five other National Governing Bodies of Sport for the first time thanks to the Government’s Healthy Ireland Keep Well campaign, with the benefit of Sláintecare funding and Sport Ireland partnership which allowed for the broadening out of the campaign.
The opening up of walking routes attached to community and club facilities is being facilitated to allow people of all ages and abilities to have a safe place to walk. The initiative includes over 600+ walking routes belonging to the GAA, IRFU, Hockey Ireland, Athletics Ireland, Cricket Ireland, and the FAI.
The opening of the walking routes is in line within the current Covid-19 restrictions which allow people to exercise within their county or within 20km of home if crossing county boundaries. Guidelines have been developed by Sport Ireland and Healthy Ireland in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in relation to this initiative.
It is vital that clubs abide by public health guidelines and take every due diligence to ensure those who want to enjoy a walk at their local grounds can do so safely. Any additional training or activity taking place on clubs grounds must be in adherence with existing Government guidelines. Gatherings of people at facilities or carparks is not permitted.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said: “We’re delighted to be in involved in finding a temporary solution for more people to get out and walk safely. We would like to thank all our governing bodies involved in their generous offering of opening their facilities for more people to walk and look after their wellbeing. We look forward to opening these facilities for sports and training as soon as is possible in the future”.
Under the initiative members and non-members can use all clubs walking routes. Walkers have a responsibility to adhere to the latest public health guidelines including travel restrictions. Only clubs within ones county or within 20km from one’s home if crossing county boundaries can be visited. An app has been developed by Get Ireland Walking specifically to allow management of walking slots and this is now open for people to book their slots. Clubs who are participating in this initiative have specific allocated times and days detailed on the app. Walkers must register for their walking slots on this app for both public health and insurance purposes. The app will facilitate booking of a slot for an individual or family pod, ensuring all are kept separate.
Minister of State for Health Promotion, Frank Feighan TD, said: “I would like to commend all the sporting organisations for pulling together at this difficult time in order to collectively help people in rural communities especially. People in rural locations in particular will benefit, as unlike urban communities, there may be less access to parks or pavements, so this initiative is extremely important to them. We are also very aware that many people would prefer to be using these facilities for sport and we look forward to the resumption of children being able to train in pods from the 26th”.
Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport, Jack Chambers TD, added: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen how our local sport clubs groups have made a real effort to support their local communities. Through opening their gates and inviting the community in enjoy their facilities in a safe manner is they are continuing this great work and for that we are very grateful.”
Guidance for clubs
- All participating clubs must have a walking route on their grounds
- All participating clubs must register on the Get Ireland Walking website
- Get Ireland Walking has recommended a maximum of 50 people per hour be permitted on a standard walking track surrounding a pitch - this limit is automatically set on the App
- A one-way system must be in place on the track for walkers
- Hand sanitisation station(s) should be placed at the entrance of the track
- The carpark and walking track should be the only elements of the club facilities open to members/the public engaging in this initiative.
- Clear signage should be made available to indicate the following:
- No gathering of people is permitted
- Grounds/paths are available for walking only, no other form of exercise is allowed.
- Any additional training or activity taking place on clubs grounds must be in adherence with existing Government guidelines
- Covid health guidelines of 2m social distancing must be followed
- Clubs should have the following in place :
- A club safeguarding statement,
- a club children’s officer in place;
- Coaches and volunteers are Garda vetted;
- Clubs should have a Covid-19 safety statement
Guidance for participants
- All walkers must adhere to public health Covid-19 guidelines, including travel restrictions currently set at within one’s county borders or within 20km from home if crossing county borders.
- Participants must walk as individuals, within their household pods or with one other household as per current Government guidelines
- Children must always remain with parents/guardians