Forerunners – Day 2 Report

Forerunners – Day 2 Report


21 participants from the Forerunners programmed returned to the Sport Ireland Campus on November 20th to continue their personal and professional development.

The group had the opportunity to participate in a Club Development workshop delivered by David Denieffe. David is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Registrar at Institute of Technology Carlow. He has been a leading academic for over 20 years, building off his previous military career. With a passion for all sports, he has been involved in delivering club planning, leadership and management programmes with a number of NGBs for the past five years. He was a mentor for our Forerunners group in 2020, and has seen a number of clubs thrive as a result of his support and guidance. He is also a Level 2 athletics coach in the area of throws, and is actively involved in athletics wit club Gowran AC and county Kilkenny. The purpose of his workshop was to identify common challenges and opportunities that face clubs in developing sustainable development plans, but to enable clubs to define considered development strategies and plans to meet current and future needs.

The group had some engaging discussions around participation and there was a consensus amongst clubs about the challenges they all faced. The workshop was group led whereby participants had the opportunity to work together and share ideas for development.

President of the Association, John Cronin was in attendance and reminded the group of their importance and contribution to the sport. Those involved have an incredible and influential role within their clubs and coaching groups and commended the group for their consistent commitment and dedication in helping to bring our sport to the fore.

CEO Hamish Adams was also in attendance, whom is a staunch advocate of increasing the number of women at every level of our sport. He recognised the work being done at a grassroots level by the group and expressed his commitment on developing a sporting culture that enables and values the full involvement of women in every aspect of the sport. He noted the Forerunners group was one strategic programme to increase the pipeline of female candidates for governance roles in general as well as for executive board positions and expressed his optimism for the future of women in sport.

Lilly-Ann O’Hora concluded the day with a Coaching Teenage Girls in Sport Workshop, designed specifically to support coaches of girls aged 12-17 years of age. This was designed by Sport Ireland and highlighted by the group as another way of empowering more girls to engage and remain in athletics. The workshop highlights the dropout rate from sport for girls is higher than for their male counterparts. It is vital that as coaches and club administrators we understand the coaching practices that will make our clubs a more desirable environment for girls.

Central to this are coaches that create a positive environment that encourages safety, fun, and healthy competition. The group recognise that it is essential to employ supportive coaching practices that reward effort for trying a new skill over winning, encourage learning from mistakes while staying positive, and promote integrity and honesty, and look forward to putting their new learnings into practice.

Our final weekend of the Forerunners will take place on the 4th and 5th of December, where we will be fortunate enough to welcome Janie Frampton and Julia Lee (She/Her) to the Forerunners team !








November 2nd 2021

Forerunners 2021- Seminar One Report

After 20 months since its original inception, the second group of the Forerunners programme gathered in the Sports Ireland Campus on Saturday October 30th. 24 women from across the Athletics Ireland membership were selected to participate in the Forerunners female leadership programme.

Forerunners was recognised by Sport Ireland as a key programme to address current gaps and future opportunities for women in sport, and as a result provide a pathway for women aspiring to become leaders in their clubs, regions and on a national level.

The programme has several aims:

  • Develop the individual personally and professionally
  • Provide opportunity and access for individuals to be involved in Athletics Ireland activities and programmes
  • Provide individual and group support for the learners, moderators, and mentors
  • Create higher skilled individuals to strengthen local, regional, provincial, and national athletics
  • Help address the gender equity balance in Athletics Ireland
  • Provide the skills and expertise to empower more women to take on senior leadership roles locally, provincially, and nationally.

The main goal of the programme is to support women to become more active in their roles, enhance their network and thus increase the participation of women in decision-making positions in different areas of the sport. This is Athletics Ireland’s first step in implementing a strategy for identification, recruitment, and development of women in decision making roles and supporting them through networking and mentoring.

Participants were in esteemed company and had the opportunity to reflect and practice in sessions with Noelle Morrissey (Emerald AC & High Performance Coach) and Dr Aine McNamara (DCU Associate Professor in Elite Performance). Noelle discussed the pathway decisions she had made as she navigated the intricacies of being an elite and high performance coach. She encouraged the participants  to ‘enjoy every little victory along the way’ and to take ownership in their coaching and development. Dr Aine shared insights into creating optimal coaching environments for coaches to thrive whilst facilitating the development of creating ones own coaching philosophy, competence and confidence. Lilly-Ann O’Hora facilitated a workshop that focused on creating one’s Personal Brand and Communication skills. Here participants had the opportunity to evaluate the impact of their communication skills and identify outcomes to improve their communication skills within their roles in athletics.

The Forerunners content predominantly revolves around coaching, club development and communication , all with the aim of providing the necessary training and expertise to empower the women to thrive in their leadership positions within our sport.

Thank you to all the participants for their interest, energy, and enthusiasm throughout the first day and we look forward to meeting all again on the 20th of November!

For more information, contact

Newsletter sign up

Sign-up for the Athletics Ireland E-Zine with exclusive interviews, coaching news and offers!

Which of the following best describes you?