Launch of Athlete Friendly Employer Network

We are delighted to reveal this morning that the Sport Ireland Institute has launched its new Athlete Friendly Employer Network, which aims to engage with organisations from corporate Ireland to develop relationships between elite Irish athletes and employers.

This is an initiative which shines a light and offers assistance to the many companies who are aware of the demands on sporting stars and are willing when asked to provide practical ways that make life a little easier all round.

The evidence is that high performers in one area of life will often match that in another so apart from the buzz that comes from having a sports star ‘on the books’ there is very often a real benefit to employers who can use the athletes in different ways above and beyond their core areas of expertise.

The Game Changer Network which Sport for Business began with AIG this year, and which is already almost full for 2019 and will kick off in January, has opened our eyes to the many different kinds of relationships that exist between athletes and employers.

The first Athlete Friendly Employer Network event took place in the Sport Ireland Institute last week, attracting key representatives from over thirty companies operating in Ireland.


With many athletes seeking to develop their work experience whilst still competing, and others seeking to develop post-competitive career plans, the purpose of the event was to give organisations an insight into the advantages of employing elite athletes and how the lifestyle of an athlete and business can coexist.

“Elite athletes are highly motivated and determined individuals,” said Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy.

“The skills and qualities that have enabled them to achieve in sport also provide them with excellent transferable skills that could provide any organisation with a competitive edge and have a positive effect on a high-performance culture.”

“While our elite athletes are operating at the highest level in their chosen sport they may require some flexibility in their working arrangements. This may mean that an athlete will request flexible working hours or that an athlete could require additional leave to maximise their training in the build-up to competition or to represent Ireland on the international stage.”

“I am delighted to see so many organisations express an interest in being a part of this network, helping to support our high-performance athletes on their Olympic and Paralympic journeys.”


Attendees at the event were invited to immerse themselves in the world of high-performance sport, with keynotes provided by Bernard Dunne, Performance Director from the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, and Kate Kirby, Head of Performance Psychology at the Sport Ireland Institute.

An engaging panel discussion combining current and former Olympic and Paralympic athletes as well as athlete friendly employers followed on after an interactive tour of the facilities.

“The Sport Ireland Institute has been committed to supporting Irish high-performance athletes achieve podium success at World and European level since its inception,” added Director of the Sport Ireland Institute Liam Harbison.

“One of our key priorities is to provide an enhanced suite of athlete life-skills support services to Irish athletes to help them achieve their full potential through education, career and performance life-skills support.”

“As part of strategic priorities in the Performance Life-skills area, the launch of the Athlete Friendly Employers Network is a key milestone, which we hope will ultimately lead to providing athletes with flexible possibilities for meaningful work experience including shadowing, internships, part-time and full-time roles.”

The initiative is being led by Olympian and Head of Performance Life Skills at the Sport Ireland Institute, Eoin Rheinisch.

“We have a unique pool of highly talented, determined and motivated individuals seeking further development and employment opportunities,” he told us.

“Athletes are often keen to progress their professional careers whilst still competing in their sport at an elite level.”

“Whilst some elite athletes are seeking to develop post-sport career plans for when they leave elite sport, others are looking to combine and balance their sporting careers while gaining valuable experience in the workplace.”

“This service aims to develop relationships with organisations in offering flexible employment opportunities to a small number of Ireland’s elite athletes.”

During the launch event, Sport Ireland recognised the best practice being delivered in the area of elite athlete support by Dell for their support of European Para Athletics Champion discus thrower Niamh McCarthy and by AIB for their support of Mitch Darling, Irish Men’s Hockey player.”

In January Sport for Business will kick off a series of features and interviews looking at the way in which different companies handle the different demands of employing high achievers.

If you would like to be part of this email us today quoting Employing Excellence in the subject line and we will see what we can do together


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