Irish rugby legends Keith Wood and Peter Clohessy have signed up as the region’s first sports ambassadors in an initiative that could see more sports events secured for County Clare and the Mid-West region.
The Sports Ambassador Programme is the first of its kind in Ireland, aims to increase Clare’s share of the lucrative sports tourism market that is estimated to be worth €60 million annually to the Shannon Region.
The campaign to encourage sports events in the region is being driven as a joint initiative by Shannon Development and the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau. In fact, people from Clare and other Shannon Region counties involved in sporting activities, at any level, are also being asked to become a sports ambassador.
Representatives from all the region’s sporting bodies were invited to this week’s launch, which was addressed by Dr Vincent Cunnane, chief executive, Shannon Development and Karen Brosnahan, business development manager, Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau and David Mahedy from the University of Limerick Sports Arena.
Explaining the reason behind the initiative, Dr Cunnane explained that sports tourism in the Shannon Region is worth €60 million annually to the economy benefiting a range of businesses from the accommodation sector, transport services, pubs and restaurants, right through to visitor attractions, sports facilities and the retail trade.
“Limerick and the Shannon Region is already recognised internationally as a top destination for sports events, securing such high-profile events over the years as the World Medical Games, the World Vintage Rugby Sevens, the World Cross Country Championships and the national and international Corporate Games.
“We are aiming to secure four or five new sports events for the Shannon Region in 2010 but support from people involved in sports around the Shannon Region will be vital. Once up and running, we hope the Shannon Region Sports Ambassadors Programme will have someone from every sport out flying the flag and championing the Shannon Region as the premier location for national and international sports events.
“We believe this latest initiative will capitalise on this key strength and is capable of delivering a bigger share of this lucrative market to the Shannon Region,”said Dr Cunnane.
Speaking about the role of sports ambassador, Karen Brosnahan said, “A sports ambassador is someone who is willing, with our help, to bid for a national or international sporting event.
“We are looking for people involved in sports of all kinds from sailing, surfing, swimming to cycling, golf, badminton, walking, this list is endless, who know of upcoming national and overseas events in their sport to get in touch with us. We are looking at targeting events such as the World Down Syndrome Swimming Championship and the World Baton Twirling Championships, which were held in the Shannon Region previously.”
To assist people who know of an upcoming event, the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Programme will provide a free service to help people pitch for events. The bureau provides a free venue-finding service and offers support for site visits to the region to view prospective sporting venues and accommodation. They also provide case building and bid assistance.