LOCAL MLA Brenda Hale has welcomed the news that Lisburn has been awarded the prestigious title of 'European City of Sport' for 2013.
Commenting on this success she said: "The continued commitment to the development of sporting facilities and infrastructure within Lisburn has provided an excellent place for budding sports stars to train and excel within their chosen sports."
She added: 'All sporting facilities and teams in Lisburn should be very proud of the work which they continually put into local sport and I hope that this recognition will inspire others to become involved in the promotion and development of sport within the city. As a committee member for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, I am especially delighted that Lisburn has received this award during both an Olympic year and the pending 2013 World Fire and Police Games, highlighting that Lisburn is well cited to maximise sporting potential within the city."
Lisnagarvey Hockey Club have also welcomed news of this accolade. Club Chairman, Mr. Paul Bonar, said: "Lisnagarvey Hockey Club are proud to boast the best hockey facilities in Ireland - this resulted in our Comber Road complex being selected by the Irish Hockey Association to host the Celtic Cup International Tournament as well as the Irish Hockey League Finals weekend in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"Our commitment to youth hockey has resulted in a large number of our 1st XI squads being 'home grown'. It is clear that investment of this kind has led to positive outcomes including healthier lifestyles for all participants and enhanced community development, as well as raising the profile for sport within the city"
As part of the assessment process the panel visited and toured the city's sporting venues including Salto and the Coca Cola Half Marathon. The panel said they were very impressed by the community spirit witnessed within local sporting initiatives and the way in which the city nurtured and funded these developments.
Mr Jimmy Khan, Head of Sport and Leisure at Preston City Council and last year's winners, said: "Like Preston, Lisburn has always had to compete for funds and development opportunities whilst being cited on the doorstep of another major city."
He added, "In nominating Lisburn for this award, Preston City was very impressed at both Lisburn's eagerness to look further afield at sporting excellence and good practice within sport. As we hand over the mantle, we at Preston send Lisburn our congratulations and very best wishes for the future."