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Growing Community Sportand Physical Activity in Northern Ireland


17th July 2019
The Riverside Theatre, Ulster University, Coleraine

Strategies, policies, experiences, real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

Svend Elkjaer, Founder/Director Sports Marketing Network

Chair and It’s all about change in community sport and physical activity

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 Svend Elkjaer, MBA founded and runs the Sports Marketing Network for people involved with the commercial, community and marketing issues across all sports and physical activity; be it a club, governing body, local authority or private sports deliverer.He has been described as a positive disruptor within community sport and physical activity and works with sports, physical activity and community organisations across the world.


Professor Karise Hutchinson is a Professor of Leadership at Ulster University and Provost of the Coleraine campus.

Welcome and setting the scene

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Professor Karise Hutchinson joined Ulster University in 2004 and was awarded a PhD in SME international management in 2006

Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive, Sport Northern Ireland

Sport NI as an ambitious catalyst for sporting growth and success

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Antoinette McKeown is leading Sport NI into the next corporate plan period with a particular focus on developing a strong sporting system in Northern Ireland. The organisation is currently consulting widely with sports organisations to put in place mechanisms and cultures that will foster sustained sporting participation and eventual medal success. This work will require a broad and ambitious take on how Northern Ireland can perform on the world stage. Whether it is in terms of levels of sporting participation, tackling inequality through sport or pushing for world class facility development, Antoinette intends to lead Sport NI as an ambitious catalyst for sporting growth and success beyond 2019. Antoinette McKeown is Chief Executive of Sport NI, former Chief Executive of both the Consumer Council and Play Board, and former Head of Policy and Development with the Equality Commission for NI. Antoinette is passionate about creating and promoting a strong sports sector so that the power of sport can be seen and experienced by all.!





Tom Overton, Head of Community Sport, Sport Wales

How a person-centred and insight led approach is changing sport in Wales

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Tom Overton is Head of Community Sport at Sport Wales and leads the organisation’s relationship with key partners delivering the Vision for Sport in Wales – his portfolio includes responsibility for Governance & Leadership. Tom is an experienced sport and community development professional having spent over 20 years working across the public sector in both England and Wales. He is a Board Director of Welsh Triathlon and Show Racism the Red Card Wales

Pippa Davis, Director, GymFun

Exploring the ‘Serious Smiles’ approach to gymnastics development through effective partnership working

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 Pippa Davis left behind a career in IT in London to follow her passion for gymnastics. Having found herself in Northern Ireland she became involved in GymFun in 2013 a was appointed a director last year. She juggles this role alongside her responsibilities with British Gymnastics for coach development in NI. She is an active gymnastics coach and a strong believer in high-quality recreational participation and keeping sport fun.

Diarmaid Marsden, Head of Community Development, Ulster GAA

How sport can become a force for good

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Diarmaid Marsden is Head of the Community Development Department of Ulster GAA. He has worked for Ulster GAA for 13 years initially as part of Coaching and Games delivery but more recently in the area of Community Development. The Community Development Department in Ulster GAA delivers Club and Volunteer support, Health and Wellbeing promotion and Community Outreach. Diarmaid understands first hand the important role sport can play in people’s lives as he played competitive Gaelic football for his club Clan na Gael, Lurgan and his County Armagh for many years. He now sits as a member of his club’s executive committee and is an active volunteer coaching numerous underage teams.

Diarmaid McAuley, Macmillan Programme Manager, Northern Ireland

How Move More is getting people living with cancer active

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Diarmaid McAuley is the Programme Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland and is responsible for the development and delivery of programmes and projects designed to help everyone with cancer to live life as fully as they can. 

Paul Logan, Paul Logan Tennis Coaching

Growing participation through innovative community tennis

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As a qualified tennis coach Paul Logan has over the last few years developed a community-based approach to get people into tennis. Reaching out into groups and communities who normally have not seen tennis as a sport for them he now coaches tennis over 20 local schools engaging with 1000 young people, running tennis for people with Downs Syndrome and setting up Toddler Tennis and many other similar activities.

Paul will be interviewed by the Chair.  

Crusaders FC – how football clubs can become more than clubs


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Even during their well-publicised financial problems Crusaders FC always kept their focus on being a club based in the centre of their community; being ‘More than a club’, as their strapline says. That community engagement was also instrumental in securing the financial backing and also funding for their improved facilities, which are now being used by a wide range of community groups and businesses. This helps secure income for the club and provides a platform for their great educational and community work.

This presentation will cover how sport can play a bigger role in people’s lives and engage with their communities.