'Our work is about creating opportunities and pathways into regualr physical activity'

MARY MURPHY - Meath Local Sports Partnership

In 2002, Meath County Council were successful in their submission to Sport Ireland to establish a Local Sports Partnership in Co. Meath. At the time there were only eight LSP`s around the country when Meath came on board, now there are 29.

The role of the Local Sports Partnership is to plan, lead and coordinate the development of sport and physical activity within the county. We achieve that goal by providing opportunities for more people to be more active more often in Meath. My role as Manager is to ensure this happens.

I`m originally from Wexford (still wear the purple and gold with pride!), studied Business Studies, Leisure & Recreation Management in Waterford IT and commenced in the role of Manager with Meath LSP in July 2002. As a youngster growing up in rural Wexford our sporting outlet was in the local GAA club which had strong ladies’ football and camogie teams and a nearby parish had a ladies soccer team. We had a certain degree of success – winning minor All-Irelands in football, Leinster club medals and county titles, but what I remember most is the sense of fun we had in training (even though a lot of the time it was tough) and in taking part in matches.

When I moved to Meath (husband is from Moynalty), I initially played with a great bunch of women in Rathkenny LGFA but then the ladies’ junior team in Moynalty was established and I wore the red and white with great pride. We were unfortunate in that we never got over the line in any of the three county finals we contested, but we had great fun along the way which I suppose on reflection eases the pain somewhat! Nowadays I play golf in Headfort GC and enjoy social outings with the golf society in Moynalty. I continue to enjoy cycling and am active member of the Moynalty Why Nots Cycling Club.

Have I always been passionate about sport and physical activity? I suppose without really recognizing it, I have been. I come from a family of two boys and four girls and was reared on a farm which had a cement area (our very own “yard of dreams” in which we contested All Ireland finals, ran alongside Sonia O’ Sullivan in the Olympics, scored the winning goal from an excellent pass from Pele, beat Sean Kelly up the mountains and managed to contain John McEnroe in Wimbledon. We had tennis racquets, footballs, bikes and great imaginations!

Mary Murphy of the Meath Local Sports Partnership

My life experience of always being involved in some form of sport and physical activity does inspire and energise me to do the job I currently do with Meath LSP. Our goal is to increase participation levels in sport and physical activity across all ages and abilities in Meath.

One of the reasons the LSPs were established nationwide was to ensure that residents within the different counties had access to a range of opportunities which would increase their physical activity levels, reduce sedentary behaviors and develop training and education opportunities for volunteers in clubs, schools and community groups.

We fully appreciate that not everyone within our county has the same opportunities to be physically activity, whether that is due to a lack of facilities, lack of resources, volunteers, clubs etc.; as an organisation, we do our best to provide opportunities to different groups ensuring a wide and diverse spread of programmes as possible.

Our work is very much about creating the opportunities, building the pathways into regular physical activity and providing for the sustained engagement of those participants.

Long term it is about leading a shift in culture and a shift in everyday practice where more people in Meath are participating in sport and physical activity.

Our staff team is made up of eight highly qualified individuals and approx. 24 part time tutors, all well experienced and expert in delivering programmes across a number of platforms to a number of different audiences; but most importantly, all keen to ensure that people who would like to be more physically active are accommodated in our programme design.

The past eighteen months or so has been immensely challenging for the sport and physical activity sector in general, but at the same time it has presented opportunities to enhance innovation and capitalise on an increased focus on physical health and activity.

Meath LSP will need to adopt new ways to navigate the impacts and implications as we learn to live with the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges faced in maintaining the growth gained with individual sports and physical activities. But the one thing coming from the pandemic that we want people to fully embrace is that physical activity and sport have played and will continue to play a monumental role in maintaining good positive physical and mental health.

Regardless of whether people have access to structured sport in clubs or a local walking track or your own “yard of dreams”, we encourage everyone to try as best they can, to give (min) 30 minutes per day (adult) or 60 mins (child) to some form of physical activity.

Keep an eye on our website for programmes in your locality www.meathsports.ie or call 046 9067337 where the staff team will happily help you.