We had a great gathering of the 2019 Sport for Business 30 Under 30 at the offices of PwC yesterday, with the kind of energy and enthusiasm that if bottled could power the entire country.

25 of this years ‘class’ were able to make it including some who had travelled from Britain, Belfast and Galway. They were joined by a group of those from the 2018 and 2017 ‘classes’ and together we set about exploring the ways in which collaboration can provide solutions for almost every challenge.

The session began with an introduction by each of the 25 and a short telling of their personal story. Confidence in their own ability and an understanding of the power of a cup of coffee were central to how they got to where they are and they really are an impressive bunch of individuals.

We had a discussion then with Ruth Fahy, excited about being co-commentator on tonight’s Women’s World Cup clash between France and the United States; with Gary Stewart fresh from hosting Ireland’s first ever Olympic Qualifier event in Beach Volleyball and with Pippa Doyle, Sponsorship lead at Littlewoods Ireland who is buzzing with the thrill of being so closely associated with the All Ireland Hurling Championship.

The group split up into teams to look at where further gains and advantage could be taken from three keys areas, of Women in Sport, of the revolution in live streaming and in the challenges of regulation and governance in a volunteer driven sector.

Connections were made, in real life as opposed to the virtual form that will undoubtedly make a real difference in the development of their own careers but also of the way in which sport and business crossover and strengthen each other.

The reaction afterwards was uniformly positive with one saying that it was the best event they had attended since starting to work in the sector and another saying that it would have taken a year to get around to meeting such a group of people so highly relevant and connected to their own development.

It is one of the real pleasures of what we do to enable this to happen and great credit must go to Jonny Dever and Sharon Fuller of PwC who made it all so easy.

As a build-up to the session, we asked the group a series of questions from the light-hearted to the much more serious on where they saw sport in Ireland in 2019.

Here are the answers they gave us.

We asked for their degree of confidence in Sport in Ireland in 2019 and they came back with a high score of 84 per cent.

We asked who they considered to be the most likely All Ireland Winner across all four codes in Gaelic Games and they said Dublin in Gaelic Football (87 per cent); Dublin in Ladies Football (66 per cent), Tipperary in Hurlin (55 per cent) and Cork in Camogie (50 per cent).

There was a massive degree of confidence that the Republic of Ireland team would make it to next year’s Euro 2020 Championships with 81 per cent believing that to be the case.

Only one of the group though believed that Ireland would win Autumn’s Rugby World Cup with making it to the Semi-Final stage just edging out the Quarter-Finals as the most likely level of attainment.

A high of 78 per cent said that they were watching and following the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

We also asked their view on whether the FAI reforms put forward by the Independent review Group would be passed at next month’s AGM. With ‘no Plan B’ in place, it is a critical decision for the sport. 39 per cent of the group felt they would be passed, twice as many as those who thought they would fail with the remainder admitting they did not know enough to express an opinion.

It was an interesting snapshot from a group of those who will undoubtedly play a major role in shaping the future of the sector over the coming years.

The group will meet again in a social setting in the Autumn and the nomination process for next year’s Sport for Business 30 Under 30, backed once more by the support of PwC, will open up next February.

We honestly can’t wait.

Click here for a link to the list of the 2019 Sport for Business 30 Under 30.
Nominations will open shortly for our listing of the 50 Most Influential Women in Irish Sport supported by Liberty Insurance.