Sport Ireland Coaching Graduation

26 Jan 2024
Stephen Walsh

Sport Ireland Coaching marked the graduation of 56 Coach Developers and Coach Developer Assessors from 15 National Governing Bodies on Saturday evening.  

This event at the Sports Pavilion at University Limerick also marked the first time that Sport Ireland Coaching, as a QQI service provider, awarded the Certificate in Sports Coach Development. A further 40 GAA coaches graduated as CDAs at an event in Croke Park on Saturday morning. 

Sport Ireland Coaching Director Michael McGeehin explained “the first graduation took place 30 years ago here in Limerick with the first Tutors graduating. Sport Ireland Coaching has come a long way since that first Tutor course took place in 1993. This was a multi-sport course delivered on an annual basis. Over the 30 years since, Irish NGB Coach Education has undergone significant change, largely driven by the need for a learner or coach centred approach which essentially shifted the role of the coach educator from deliverers of information to facilitators of coach development.   

“Keeping up with international best practice, in 2014, Sport Ireland Coaching introduced the concept of Coach Developer and Coach Assessor to the Irish Sports system with the first CD course delivered in 2015. Since then, 83 Coach Developer Courses have been delivered along with 15 Coach Developer Assessor courses, not only all over Ireland but also internationally.  

“This graduation not only celebrates the hard work of those graduating, but it also recognises the support and sacrifice of their partners, families and friends, and is an opportunity to say thank you to them.”   

The graduation marks a first for the FAI who, for the last 14 months, have been upskilling their full-time coach education staff as Coach Developers. The largest cohort of people graduated on the night came from the FAI with 23 Coach Developers graduating with the QQI award. This is part of an ongoing project between Sport Ireland Coaching and the FAI to train up over 80 of their staff as Coach Developers in the next 12-18 months.  

Sport Ireland Chief Executive Dr. Úna May commented: "The graduation of 56 Coach Developers and Coach Developer Assessors across 21 counties is a reflection of the excellent work being carried out by Sport Ireland Coaching. The graduation marked a number of firsts as well as recognising the hard work, commitment and passion of our coaches, and crucially supporting their development and with that the development of their respective sports."

There were 12 female recipients on the night and the first female FAI Coach Developer, Aoibh Hall graduated with the QQI Certificate in Sports Coach Development award. The Head of Education and Development in the FAI, Niall O’Regan, also graduated on the night. “I have an ethos of lifelong learning,” he explained after receiving his own certificate. “We had an amazing experience of working with Hayley Harrison from Sport Ireland. It's all about learning and every opportunity you get to challenge yourself is great, and coming back into education, and getting to work and meet with your peers and colleagues is always great.   

“The Sport Ireland Coach Developer course is something I'd recommend to every NGB to do because it's not just beneficial in terms of a qualification, it's beneficial in terms of the environment it creates among the staff, and it's about bringing the best quality coach development to all of our coaches.   

“The main thing I took away from the course was to create the most enjoyable experience you can for people, if people are having fun they're going to learn and that's one of the most important things Hayley did with us all.  

“For us in the FAI what we want to do is ensure that we are providing the best learning environment and the best experience for our coaches, so when Sport Ireland informed us that the QQI developer had now been recognised in an academic sense - it's something that's world leading because it doesn’t exist in any other training that we've done in the past.   

“So having our Coach Developers not only going through a sport specific Coach Developer programme, but also having them get an academic qualification and credits along with that has actually encouraged a number of the staff who are very experienced in their years to actually go back to education. Because they've now started to realise that they don't have to have a fear of education.   

“The experience of doing the course assignments and understanding the way it would be assessed in a university setting has been amazing so it really has been life changing in terms of the way we are going to approach coach development.”  

James Doran was MC for the night, with Sport Ireland CEO Dr. Úna May joined by Sport Ireland Coach Developer Lead Hayley Harrison, and Sport Ireland Coaching Director Michael McGeehin as speakers.  


Coach/Instructor Developers are experienced coaches or instructors who are deployed by their National Governing Body (NGB) to train and support coaches and instructors in their sport. 

Coach Developer Assessors are experienced Coach Developers who support and assess the development of Coach/Instructor Developers.

Sport Ireland Coaching provide a suite of programmes for Coach Developers. Read more about them here