Celebrating The Impact Of Sport On Our Community

Sport resonates in different ways with each of us:

  • The adrenaline rush of a last-minute goal.  
  • The camaraderie of a close-knit group of teammates.  
  • The throw of a defence-splitting pass.  
  • The agony of defeat.  
  • The awkwardness of falling over in a competitive primary school sack race.  

“What does sport mean to you?” 

That’s the question Sported asked, and attempted to answer, through our project Celebrating the Impact of Sport On Our Community’.

Through conversations and analysis from those embedded in delivering sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland, our report grabbed a snapshot of benefits on their local communities that stretches beyond the touchline or boundary and assessed how it transforms lives.

It is a never-ending story – with new chapters being written every day on sports fields, at youth clubs, leisure centres and houses across the country.  

View the full report here

The legacy of sport in Northern Irish communities

The legacy of the impact of sport on communities has been seen most prominently in four key areas. 

  1. Women’s value and participation 

  2. Mental Wellbeing 

  3. Peace & Reconciliation 

  4. Inclusivity for all 

Through the voices we heard from, we chronicled a dramatic change over time. 


But learnt how more effort, support, encouragement and opportunities are needed in the future in order to make these impacts sustainable.



Reflections on Sported’s report on the impact of sport across communities in NI

It was our hope that we would accurately reflect the rich heritage of sport impacting communities. As we narrowed the research down to local level here in Northern Ireland, we unearthed a collection of stories. 


These were the personal reflections of individuals and the impact that sport had had on them and on their community. We saw a national project filled with powerful personal stories.

Older people recalled events from decades ago with a smile on their faces or tears in their eyes. Current participants reflected on the influence of others on their lives and the impact they can have on those around them.

Grassroots sport has played a massively significant part in changing lives. Therefore, as we narrowed the focus in our research, we also found out that the true community impact of sport and physical activity wasn’t built through the accomplishments of the famous: it was generated away far away from the spotlight.

Many recalled stories of local people investing their skills, time and heart into the club, community and into the individuals present.

These names won’t be found in Google searches, library papers or TV documentaries – but their impact will be seen directly and indirectly for years to come in the lives of people and their communities.

These are the unknown stories that we wanted to share. These are the unknown stories that should be lauded and recognised.

Get involved

More stories are welcome. And we encourage community groups across NI to contribute to this work, showcasing their own stories, images and legacies. 

Should you need any support with this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on the project, contact Judith Rankin j.rankin@sported.org.uk

Find out more about Sported’s work with community sports groups in Northern Ireland

Contributors to Sported’s report

We would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund – Northern Ireland for enabling this project, and our gratitude to all the contributors on the project, as we interviewed many people from community sports groups. These clubs included:
• Armagh RFC
• Ballyclare Comrades Ladies FC
• Leander ASC
• Ledley Hall Boxing Club
• Na Magha CLG
• Portadown RFC
• Powered By Sport
• TriStar FC
• Ulster Rugby
These were supplemented with a number of personal interviews from those invested in this work.
Without these groups and individuals, we could not have told this story. We could not have celebrated the impact that sport has had on communities here in Northern Ireland.


We couldn’t have recorded that story of impact – because they themselves are the story.