Athletics Ireland casts recruitment net to get ‘country running’


Athletics Ireland has begun the recruitment process for a new role, director of participation. The post is designed to increase membership and participation across all levels of activity in the sport and to “get Ireland running”.

According to Athletics Ireland, the new role will primarily be responsible to develop and implement “a clear, coherent, and cohesive strategy to increase participation levels in all athletics activities in Ireland”. This will include strategies to drive increased participation of all programmes, existing and new.

It is also intended that the new role will evaluate sports tourism in Ireland and identify and convert opportunities for optimising participation.

Like many sports, Athletics Ireland saw a significant drop off in membership during the coronavirus pandemic. According to recent data made available by the organisation overall registration has more than halved in the 12-month period during the pandemic, from 45,306 at the end of February 2020 to 19,702 at the end of February 2021.

Some of the counties to experience the most dramatic drop-off in membership included Kerry (down from 1,133 in 2020 to 242 in 2021), Mayo (down from 1,948 to 528) and Laois (down from 869 to just 134). The steepest overall decline was in juvenile membership, which over the last year fell from 24,109 to 8,141.

Dublin, which at the time had 44 registered athletics clubs and more than any other county, experienced a membership decline from 7,546 to 4,678. In some counties, such as Carlow, registration was down more significantly – their numbers fell from 472 to just 73.

At that time Athletics Ireland also had a female membership (10,118) slightly higher than male (9,584), but overall senior membership across the 32 counties has also more than halved over the last 12 months – from 2,761 to 1,361.

Retired internationals

Meanwhile, the Board of Athletics Ireland has also approved the terms of reference for a new athletes commission. Its role will be to provide Athletics Ireland’s international athletes and recently retired internationals with a mechanism for their views to be heard by the board on important matters and to ensure that athlete welfare and wellbeing is considered by the board.

The primary responsibilities of the athletes commission will be to act as a voice for international athletes and ensure strong channels of communication are in place to allow for issues to be highlighted at the appropriate level of the organisation. It is also intended the athletes commission will provide an avenue for internationals’ grievances to be considered.

In order to be considered, candidates must have represented Athletics Ireland at European or World international competition in the previous four years and be a member of Athletics Ireland. Initially, the athletes commission will comprise a maximum of seven members, five elected and two appointed by the board of the AAI [Athletic Association of Ireland], “ensuring an appropriate skills mix and balance in relation to gender, age, athletic events including recently retired athletes”.

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