SSI Position Statement on Sport Ireland High Performance Strategy 2021-2032

2019 World University Games, Stadio San Paulo, Napoli, Italy 11/7/2019 Men’s 200m Final Ireland’s Marcus Lawler celebrates winning bronze ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Student Sport Ireland welcomes the recent launch of the ambitious Sport Ireland High Performance Strategy 2021 – 2032 and the key role identified for the Higher Education sector in collaboration with high performance stakeholders in the implementation of a significant number of key actions set out in the document.

High performance sport in the Irish Higher Education sector has evolved significantly in recent years as evidenced by the achievements of elite Irish student-athletes and teams in the international competitions in recent years. A record number of Irish athletes who are currently in receipt of Higher Education high performance sport supports will compete for Ireland at the Olympic Games which commence this week in Tokyo.

Of the Team Ireland athletes confirmed to date to compete at the Games, 23 are currently studying at Higher Education institutes in Ireland, and 34 are recent graduates. There are also 11 HE members staff who are part of the support team.

The high-performance sport support on offer from the Higher Education sector includes well-developed and resourced sport scholarship and performance programmes, ongoing research and development sport and exercise science and technology and world class sporting infrastructure.

Student Sport Ireland, as the governing body for Higher Education sport and a key stakeholder in the high-performance ecosystem in Ireland, looks forward to working in partnership and exploring future collaborative opportunities with Sport Ireland, the Sport Ireland Institute, the National Governing Bodies, the Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland in the implementation of the High Performance strategy.

Potential collaborative opportunities between Student Sport Ireland, Sport Ireland and high-performance sport stakeholder in Ireland include:

• Opportunity to further develop integrated systems to support high performance student athletes across the Higher Education sector, including a dual career accredited programme which compliments both sporting and academic advancement

• Further enhance coach education and development collaboration opportunities which utilise the extensive network of high performance expertise, facilities, and networks that exist across the Higher Education sports sector

• Research: Explore areas of expertise outside of traditional themes and develop aligned research and insights initiatives and funded projects

• Further enable the elite sporting pathway from junior to senior by growing opportunities for international representation at World University competitions

• Enable effective, transparent, and functional relationships between NGB’s, SI, SII, and the HE sports sector

SSI President Matthew Dossett commented “The link between high performance sport and academic achievement is well documented. Top level athletes are now competing at the highest level from an earlier age, and sporting careers are continuing for longer than previously, which highlights an increased importance for student athletes to be able to balance both commitments. The structure in place across higher education institutions across the Island of Ireland is a significant contributor in the athlete journey, as shown by the 57 current and recent graduates in the delegation, and 11 staff members involved in the support team.

Dossett continued “Student Sport Ireland are committed to leading the sector in sustaining and growing this support alongside academic and sporting sector partners, and we welcome the increased role of HE detailed in the new Sport Ireland High Performance Strategy. I would like to congratulate all those who have contributed to the plan and the ongoing success of the high performance pathway, and extend best wishes to everyone in Team Ireland particularly the current student athletes”.