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Sport Ireland Launch High Performance Strategy

24 June 2021; Sport Ireland has published its new High Performance Strategy 2021-2032, a long term plan for the Irish high performance system over the next three Olympic and Paralympic cycles. A robust and comprehensive period of consultation and research underpinned the development of the Strategy which sets out the ambition and vision for high performance sport in Ireland. The Strategy will be delivered in partnership with the broader high performance community and is based on the philosophy that athletes and the people who support them are at the heart of everything. Sport Ireland has identified investment in coaching as the key to delivering its new High Performance Strategy and has appointed renowned athletics coach Stephen Maguire to lead a transformation of Irish coaching over the next ten years. The review of the Rio Games 2016 highlighted the importance of Governance and the direct impact on performance. The Strategy will place an emphasis on the governance of High Performance Programmes over the next period. Sport Ireland has developed the Culture Evolution Programme which will be expertly guided by John Donnelly. This programme will support National Governing Bodies as they seek to protect and maximise the experience of athletes, coaches, and support staff. Pictured at the announcement are Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, and Minister of State for Sport, the Gaeltacht & Defence, Jack Chambers TD , with Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy, and from left, rugby sevens player Harry McNulty, gymnast Rhys McCleneghan, OFI chief executive Peter Sherrard, Niamh O'Sullivan of Sport Ireland, Liam Sheedy of Sport Ireland High Performance, Sport Ireland high performance director Paul McDermott, Lisa Clancy of Paralympics Ireland, heptathlete Kate O'Connor, hockey player Sarah Hawkshaw, Stephen Maguire of Sport Ireland and paralympian Orla Comerford. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE *

Sport Ireland today published its new High Performance Strategy 2021-2032, a long term plan for the Irish high performance system over the next three Olympic and Paralympic cycles.

A robust and comprehensive period of consultation and research underpinned the development of the Strategy which sets out the ambition and vision for high performance sport in Ireland. The Strategy will be delivered in partnership with the broader high performance community and is based on the philosophy that athletes and the people who support them are at the heart of everything.

Sport Ireland has identified investment in coaching as the key to delivering its new High Performance Strategy and has appointed renowned athletics coach Stephen Maguire to lead a transformation of Irish coaching over the next ten years.

The review of the Rio Games 2016 highlighted the importance of Governance and the direct impact on performance. The Strategy will place an emphasis on the governance of High Performance Programmes over the next period.

Globally the lesson from high performance sport is that culture matters. The welfare of athletes and of everyone involved in High Performance Sport will be central to the strategy and no short cuts will be taken in order to achieve ambitious goals. Sport Ireland has developed the Culture Evolution Programme which will be expertly guided by John Donnelly. This programme will support National Governing Bodies as they seek to protect and maximise the experience of athletes, coaches, and support staff.

Coinciding with the launch of the High Performance Strategy are advancements to the International Carding Scheme. This Scheme, which provides direct funding to athletes, will see a number of positive changes including an increase of award amounts; the introduction of a team funding model; security of funding in 2023 and 2024; and financial and service support for retiring athletes. These welcomed advancements will ensure Ireland provides a world-leading and comprehensive support model to high performance athletes.

High performance sport will be further supported by the announcement of €1.3million in funding in 2021 as part of Round 1 of the High Performance Impact Funding Programme. This fund will support NGBs with immediate and confirmed costs to high performance programmes specifically relating to the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Future rounds of HP Impact Funding for Paris 2024 will be delivered in quarter three and four of 2021. NGBs have applied to Sport Ireland for funding where they have incurred costs relating to Tokyo 2020 (2021) which are beyond the scope of High Performance Programme funding and other performance programme resources.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD welcomed the publication, commenting: “I am delighted to see the publication of this Strategy and the vision and strategic direction for high performance sport in Ireland. The National Sports Policy 2018-2027 tasked Sport Ireland with developing a new long-term strategy for high performance sport and this Strategy clearly sets out challenging but achievable targets. A collaborative approach across the sector will be key to realising these targets and our athlete’s potential. This will be underpinned by significant and sustained investment from Government. High performance sport has the power to inspire us all to lead active lifestyles and over the past year, the successes and performances of our athletes have boosted the nation when we needed it most. I look forward to seeing the impact of this ambitious strategy over the coming years”. 

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht & Sport, Jack Chambers TD added: “Ireland is a proud sporting nation steeped in international success, with many of our fondest memories centred on Ireland’s achievements on the global stage. The inspirational effect of our high performance athletes on the Irish public cannot be overstated. This new High Performance Strategy is ambitious and signals our belief that Irish athletes can compete with the best in the world and win medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and other major international competitions, on a consistent basis. We would like to commend all those who provided input to this strategy, in particular the members of the High Performance Working Group, Sport Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland, National Governing Bodies, Olympic Federation of Ireland, Paralympics Ireland and the Athletes’ Commission”

Chairman of Sport Ireland Kieran Mulvey commented: “The launch now is a vote of confidence in our athletes and to reassure them that there is belief in them and their programmes in advance of Tokyo and onwards to Paris. Their diligence, resilience and determination through the challenges of the pandemic have been extraordinary. Ireland’s athletes and those that support them will be central to the delivery of this Strategy. The advancements to the International Carding Scheme and introduction of the Culture Evolution Programme demonstrates our commitment to this philosophy”

Chair of Sport Ireland’s High Performance Committee Liam Sheedy commented: “Ireland can be proud of the achievements of our athletes over the course of the last number of years across a wide variety of sports. Equally we can be proud of the progress made in the high performance system to ensure that the right structures and people are in place for this success to be realised. However, it is imperative that we continue to challenge and improve the system. The Strategy sets out targets and clear actions across seven strategic area which will have a positive impact on our sports and athletes. On behalf of the High Performance Working Group, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the development of this strategy and played a part in shaping the future of high performance sport in Ireland”.

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy commented: “High performance sport in Ireland has made substantial progress in recent years as evidenced by the consistent podium and top ten finishes achieved by Irish athletes and teams on the international stage. The public response to this success demonstrates a real appetite to see Ireland’s high performance system continue to advance. It is sustained investment over many years that has brought increased level of success across the system. The time is right to provide further investment to move to the next level.

“The National Governing Bodies of sport have carried out considerable work to progress their own programmes and with the partnership agreement in place between Sport Ireland and both the Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland, our athletes will be well prepared heading in to Tokyo and subsequent Olympic and Paralympic Games. World class facilities and equipment is one of the strategic pillars of the Strategy. The Sport Ireland Campus is a major statement of the commitment to high performance sport and in will be further developed and expanded in the coming years to really deliver the best possible facilities for existing and emerging athletes. This strategy sets out a blueprint to build on the work already achieved and make sustainable improvement to the system and across our high performance sports. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this collaborative work in the years to come and the development of future generations of talented athletes”.

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