Over half of parents admit their children don't play any sport
Rugby star Rob Kearney yesterday encouraged children to join him living the dream after it was revealed that more than half of Irish parents admit their children do not play any sport.
At Croke Park to launch a new 'Field of Dreams' competition in which a sports club can win a €100,000 revamp of their facilities, the Leinster and Ireland fullback espoused the benefits of a sporty lifestyle.
"I always remember going to bed at night at six or seven years of age, dreaming of one day playing on a pitch like Croke Park, so for me it's been a dream come true," Kearney told the Irish Independent.
Asked about the Irish rugby team ending their tenure in the GAA stadium and returning to the new Aviva stadium at Lansdowne Road, Kearney said: "I've mixed emotions -- it's such an awesome stadium, but at the same time it'll be great to get back to Lansdowne, the true home of rugby."
The launch of the competition coincided with the release of a new study of more than 1,000 people yesterday, which highlighted the ongoing problem of the country's inactive children.
It found that 55pc of Irish parents surveyed said their children are not involved in playing sport. Thirty-six per cent said their children play between one and two sporting activities, while just 9pc play between three and four games.
Meanwhile, 92pc of those surveyed by Empathy Research on behalf of the 'Field of Dreams' competition, believe sports participation among our nation's youth should be higher.
Almost a third (32pc) blamed a weak sports element in the schools curriculum for the poor participation rates.
"The majority of our member national governing bodies (74pc) have suffered a decline in funding over the past 12 months," said Sarah O'Connor, head of the Federation of Irish Sports.
"Sports organisations around the country need support and resources in order to promote and develop their sport so as to ensure increased opportunities for all to participate in sport."
The 'Field of Dreams' competition pits sports clubs against each other in the battle to win €100,000 towards revamping their facilities. Teams can apply at www.kellogg's.ie/fieldofdreams, and have until July 31 to submit their entries.
As the clubs are whittled down to the final four, one for each province, they will each get a celebrity champion -- RTE presenters Tracy Piggott (Ulster), Jacqui Hurley (Munster), Marty Morrissey (Connacht) and Rob Kearney (Leinster).