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Youth and sport must be a priority in Covid-19 recovery – MEP Kelly

Published: Mon, 08 February 2021

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Young people and their future health and career prospects should be a clear priority across all EU policy and funding areas in the recovery plans from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Seán Kelly MEP who is backing calls for more targeted assistance for youth and sport.

“I fully support calls for the European Commission to swiftly mobilise all funding available with direct focus on youth, such as the Youth Guarantee and Erasmus+ to support young people who are being impacted in terms of education, work and health, both physical and mental, due to less regular sports activities”, the Ireland South MEP said.

On Tuesday, MEPs will vote on the Resolution which also urges Member States to ensure that national support funds, under Covid-19 recovery plans, benefit the sports sector. It also asks the Commission to explore all possible avenues to deliver additional targeted support for both amateur and professional sport with the aim of increasing the viability of the whole sector. The Commission is also being called on to fully assess the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport across the Member States and, on the basis of the results of this assessment, develop a European approach to coping with the challenges and mitigating the possible consequences.

“Sport provides our youth with much more than exercise, it is also about inclusion. Staying active is crucial for positive mental health and can be a social outlet and provides as sense of purpose for many. Furthermore, sporting clubs play a huge role in the fabric and history of local communities, especially in rural areas. We also need to pay particular attention to young people with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas who particularly benefit from organised activities in their locality”, Kelly underlined.

“Sport is also an important economic sector accounting for an estimated 5.67 million jobs in the EU and 2.12% of total GDP in the EU.”

The Fine Gael MEP and former GAA President has been a long-time advocate for increasing EU funding for youth sports and particularly for grassroots sports, as well as promoting education and youth engagement as a European Parliament Ambassador for CoderDojo and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.

“Some restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19, including some sports activities and remote learning at certain times and these guidelines should always be adhered to for everyone’s wellbeing. The first priority is always the health and safety of people, but as we look to the future, we need to rebuild our lives and the next generation deserve our full attention”, he added.

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