When the Department for Communities originally tasked us with creating an event that would inspire children through sport back in 2012, we knew there was on opportunity to create something really special, not just for the Department for Communities, or for us, but for every child who attended. Now in its 7th year, the Celebration of Sport continues to motivate, celebrate and encourage participation in sport to the children of Northern Ireland.
The Celebration of Sport gives local children, from all communities, the chance to try sports they may otherwise never engage with, giving them the opportunity to unearth hidden talents and passions. This year, over 1500 children attended the event, trying 45 sports from rock climbing, to motocross, to wheel chair basketball and breakdancing.
As well as allowing the children to try new sports, we also wanted to inspire the children by highlighting Northern Irelands sporting success. To do this, we invited local sporting heroes along to meet, greet and participate in the sports on offer. This year, we were thrilled to welcome Carl Frampton, a 2 weight World Champion boxer to our event. He was joined by representatives from the Belfast Giants, Irish Special Olympics Athletes, Irish League Footballers and many others to meet the children and answer questions during a special Q&A where children could pose their questions directly to the elite athletes and have their pictures taken as a memento of the day.
“ Sport should be promoted as much as possible and I feel that if, like me, you’re in a position to help something like this, I feel like you should do it.” – Carl Frampton
With approximately 200 contact points needed to deliver this event, it couldn’t be planned on the back of a napkin. To ensure we created a memorable event, preparations began almost a year in advance. We set up event processes, scheduling plans and blueprints that would ensure a safe event for participants and a stress free process for our delivery partners.
We utilised communication technology to help organise the event intelligently. This included creating a bespoke web portal for tasks including document sharing, registration, correspondence tracking and post event discussion. These systems allowed us to spend more time planning the event, rather than losing time to monotonous, timely admin tasks It also made life for event participants much simpler.
Our internal design team took care of the promotional and printed materials, including event signage, maps and social media posts.
On the day itself, we managed a team of 30 support staff, including first aid staff, AV and support staff who helped us to seamlessly deliver a stress free, safe event for the DFC.
Once the day itself was complete, we wanted to ensure all the children and schools that had attended had continued access to information about the various sports they had tried. Through our bespoke web portal and a mail out campaign, all the schools and attendees could find out more about the activities they had participated in, and find the details of local clubs if they wished to take their interest one step further.
This years event gained excellent press coverage, including articles in the Belfast Telegraph, as well as a hugely positive response from the schools in attendance.
“Thank you so much for Friday. It was honestly the best day. Hillcroft had an absolute ball… We were so proud that all of our pupils participated and that some participated in events that was completely outside their comfort zone. Well done on a great day!”
In the 7 years since it’s inception, the event has grown from a few hundred attendees to over 1500 attendees. In 2020, we hope to welcome our 10,000th participant to the event.
The event has been held all around Northern Ireland, including Enniskillen, LondonDerry, Lisburn, Antrim, Newry and Belfast. Next year, we hope to allow even more children to Celebrate and be inspired by Sport.