Diver Oliver Dingley is among the ambassadors of the Dare to Believe Olympic Schools Project ©Getty Images

The Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) has announced FBD Insurance as the sponsor of this year’s "Dare to Believe" Olympic schools programme as they further expand their role in the build-up to next year's re-arranged Games in Tokyo. 

FBD Insurance are already the official sponsor of Team Ireland on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

OFI claimthe Dare to Believe project has surpassed all its targets to date, bringing the Olympics in the classroom to more than 5,000 children nationwide.

The project began in February 2019 following investment from OFI and the International Olympic Committee.

Backing from FBD Insurance will see the school activation programme, championed and supported by the OFI Athletes’ Commission, expand further.

The includes increasing the number of new ambassadors by 16, taking the total number associated with the programme to 25.

Roisin McGettigan, who represented Ireland in the 3,000 metres steeplechase at Beijing 2008 and who developed the Olympic Schools Programme, welcomed the latest financial support.

"When we set about designing Dare to Believe we had an ambition to inspire children to follow their dreams, to be daring and to believe in themselves, and set about a curriculum that we believed would reflect that, while being firmly planted in approved methodologies, with resources that would make the delivery as easy as possible for teachers," McGettigan said.

"The first phase has received an overwhelmingly positive welcome, from everyone involved – teachers, students and ambassadors themselves.

"The aim was to display the many benefits of sport, activity, goal setting and respect in a way that even children with no real interest in sport could find something that they could learn from, and we encourage them through the programme to follow their Olympic sized dream whatever that may be.

"Over the past year we have been inundated with posters, cards, designs, and videos from children nationwide who have participated in the programme.

"Last summer’s Dare to Design competition was hugely popular, and we have been blown away with the feedback from the athletes’ involvement in the RTÉ Home School Hub productions - with more action coming in the next week.

"We are grateful for the support from both Olympic Solidarity and FBD which allows this programme continue to grow."

Dare to Believe will teach primary school students about the Olympism and the Olympicvalues through a curriculum that includes over 40 of the approved education methodologies.

It is claimed the interactive "five ring" programme allows the teacher to explore broad themes that reflect the Olympic values of respect and equality, healthy body and mind, and joy of effort.

The final ring focuses on striving for excellence which sees the athlete ambassador deliver their personal sporting story to the class.

Athlete ambassadors have been forced to have virtual visits due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambassadors are also involved in the RTÉ Home School Hub and After School Hub Sports Week.

Diver Oliver Dingley, hockey’s Anna O’Flanagan, boxer Kellie Harrington and modern pentathlete Sive Brassil helped launch the expanded programme.

"I am delighted to be a ‘Dare to Believe’ ambassador and I’m thrilled that Team Ireland sponsor, FBD Insurance, has come on board to support this brilliant programme," Dingley said.

"When I was young, it was always my dream to be an Olympian and I trained and worked extremely hard to try and make that a reality.

"I am honoured to be part of a programme that aims to inspire the next generation of Olympic athletes.

"I look forward to telling them my story, passing on all of the skills I have learned from sport and trying to leave a positive impact on these pupils."

Aileen Donoghue, head of brand at FBD Insurance, added that the company was pleased the expand its sponsorship and enable athletes to connect with children across the country.

"FBD has been delighted to support Team Ireland in their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics next year, and we are thrilled to now be able to expand that support into this year’s ‘Dare to Believe’ programme," Donoghue said.

"We believe that this programme is a superb way for elite Irish athletes to truly connect with children across the country, helping them to develop skills across a wide range of areas and inspire them to achieve not only their sporting ambitions, but their life dreams.

"We have seen the superb impact that role models play in young people’s lives, and we know the profound impact of sport in our communities around the country; we are proud that we are helping Ireland’s elite athletes inspire the generation of tomorrow."