There are hopes that lobbying for a Centre for Sporting Excellence in Fermanagh will not fall on deaf ears as more young people continue to dominate their chosen sport.

With Sport NI reviewing its regional sports strategy, hosting a meeting recently in the county, it was made clear to them how Fermanagh lags behind many areas in sports provision, denying many of our young hopefuls of adequate training facilities on their doorstep if they are to develop their sporting careers.

It is now well known how Fermanagh sporting talent punch above their weight in many different disciplines, as seen at The Impartial Reporter’s Celebration of Sport each year. Week after week, we record the triumphs and successes of many of our young talent not only in team games but in individual sports such as athletics, swimming, tennis, motorcycling and even equestrian sport.

The sad fact is that we have national champions in athletics, whose training involved long round trips to other counties to avail of their facilities. That demanding schedule, having to endure long road journeys just to train, could be holding back our sportspeople from even greater things.

According to our triple jump champion, Conall Mahon, while at St. Michael’s College, he got the opportunity to train at top class facilities in Sligo twice a year and has to use facilities now in Donegal. He says Fermanagh is the only county in Ireland without a tartan track, a specialised surface for track and field specialists where they could become accustomed to surfaces found at major championships.

The same problem exists with swimming where there is just one 50-metre pool serving Northern Ireland, situated at Bangor, similar to those used in major championships, a 200-mile round trip for young hopefuls from Fermanagh if they wanted to use it.

In tennis circles, there are no public indoor tennis facilities outside Belfast so that during the winter, young potential stars of the future often have to sit it out if outdoor courts are frozen or waterlogged.

Some of our schools have given young people a terrific start in their chosen sport, encouraging them with the fundamentals but we need to see this talent blossom into something bigger to help them reach their potential.

The dream for Olympic and Commonwealth Games should always be there for any sportsperson. It’s just a pity many find barriers in their way to succeed.