The Institute of Technology, Tralee is delighted to welcome An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade Simon Coveney TD to officially open the €19 million Kerry Sports Academy (KSA) at the Institute of Technology Tralee.
The Kerry Sports Academy enables sports people, able and disabled, to enjoy, prepare and compete to the highest standards and has been designed to address the needs of Paralympic level athletes, as well as opening up a world of opportunities and accessibility to sports and recreation for people with disabilities in our society.
Construction began on the Kerry Sports Academy in 2017 and the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., turned the first sod on 27th March 2017. The KSA is located in the North Campus at IT Tralee and will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the following:
- Health and Leisure Programmes at the IT Tralee;
- UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sport Fitness, and Recreation;
- National Centre for Adapted Physical Activity – CARA;
- Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann – Traditional Irish Music Headquarters;
- Kerry GAA.
Welcoming An Tánaiste the Chairman of the IT Tralee Governing Body, Mr. Lionel Alexander expressed his thanks to the Minister and the government for its ongoing support to enhance facilities for students and stakeholders at IT Tralee. The Chairman outlined the importance of the development of the capital infrastructure of the IT Tralee, as it approaches the final stages of the creation of the Munster Technological University in partnership with CIT.
Addressing the audience at the Opening Ceremony, An Tánaiste Simon Coveney said, “Sport and recreation play important roles in our lives and never more so than in today's hectic environment. Sport’s value to society cannot be over-emphasised, in raising our health levels, in helping to give us a sense of ourselves and in boosting our morale. These new facilities at the Institute of Technology Tralee will facilitate a significant increase in Adapted Physical Activity (APA) service provision and will create increased opportunities for participation in sport by people with disabilities.”
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Minister of State Brendan Griffin stated, “This is a significant day for education and sport in Kerry. Third level opportunities are critical for balanced regional development and the Institute of Technology in Tralee will continue to play a key part in the economic growth of Kerry and the surrounding region. Everybody should have the opportunity to participate in sport and the associated health and social benefits are well documented. My Department has already provided over €7m towards the magnificent new facility and I would like to congratulate everybody involved who ensured that the project has been delivered”.
The Institute of Technology Tralee became the first third level institution in the world to receive a UNESCO Chair in 2013 entitled “Transforming the lives of people with disabilities, their families, and community through Physical Education, Sport, Recreation and Fitness.” IT Tralee was awarded the Chair in recognition of its outstanding work, completed over many years, in the area of inclusion of people with disabilities. The Chair leads a global partnership for mainstreaming diversity through physical education, sport, recreation and fitness.
The IT Tralee Foundation secured funding for the Kerry Sports Academy through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and donations from Philanthropic Foundations, High Net Worth Individuals, Corporate Donors and Strategic Partners. IT Tralee also contributed to the project from its capital reserves.
Mr Dick Spring, Chairman of the Institute of Technology Tralee Foundation said “Today is an exciting day for us here at the Institute and for our national and international partners. We have over the years worked hard to develop an ethos of inclusion in sport and to shape the future of adapted physical activity, regionally, nationally and internationally. The opening of the Kerry Sports Academy will further cement the Institute’s reputation as a world class centre of excellence for education and research in adapted physical activity and inclusive physical education. The focus of the Academy's activities will be life long and life wide, ranging from rehabilitation and recreation through to elite performance.”
The Kerry Sports Academy is the first phase of the Institute’s Master Development Plan 2017- 2027. Work has already commenced on the next phase of this plan, a 9,000m2 facility to accommodate the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) School of IT Tralee. Work is expected to be complete on this development in 2022.