IRISH SPORTS COUNCIL The Irish Sports Council Announces Grants of €1.7 million under the Year 2005 International Carding Scheme

10 Mar 2005

"This announcement represents substantial investment in our elite athletes and demonstrates continued commitment to our most talented international representatives. The Scheme has made a significant contribution to high performance sport in recent years. The time has come, in the light of the Athens Review, to streamline investment through the Scheme and target those athletes with the best chance of competing effectively and consistently at elite level over the coming years".

John O'Donoghue T.D, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

View the list of 2005 International Carding Scheme Grant Recipients attached below this article.

€1.7 million was allocated to Ireland's elite athletes today (March 8) under the Irish Sports Council's 2005 International Carding Scheme. This provides the platform for our top sports men and women to prepare for success at international level.

150 athletes from 21 governing bodies of sport benefited from grants ranging from developmental to World Class 1. In addition Junior Squads from 11 sports have been grant aided for 2005.

Established and emerging international performers have benefited from the International Carding Scheme. Since its inception May 1998 €11 million has been allocated in direct financial support to Ireland's elite athletes. They also benefit from a comprehensive range of sports medical and science supports, with delivery coordinated by the National Coaching and Training Centre in Limerick.

Notwithstanding its contribution to high performance sport in Ireland the time is right to review the Scheme. The Athens Review, published on March 2, makes it clear that, going forward, funding had to be more focused, based on stricter criteria and with greater emphasis on the provision of world-class support services.

The focus of the Scheme into the future will be on junior and development ranks. The Council has sought to ensure that younger athletes with potential to perform over the long term are included in the Scheme.

An associated development in 2005 relates to athletes who have been on the scheme for five years as seniors. A review was carried out on every athlete based on an assessment of their progress through their sport, and the Scheme, over the past five years, their current status and likelihood to further progress within their chosen disciplines.

The outstanding performance of David Gillick at the European Indoor Championships on March 5 sees him elevated to World Class III and a grant of €19,100. His gold medal winning colleague Alistair Cragg has yet to indicate if he will apply for a grant in 2005.

There is a process which allows athletes appeal any decision taken in 2005. The closing date for appeals is March 24.

A complete review of the Scheme will be completed in 2005 with a view to a new Scheme for 2006. Any money not invested directly to athletes through the Scheme will be reinvested in high performance programmes through the sports Performance Directors.

What this means, in effect, is that a smaller number of senior athletes will benefit. The elite that remain within the Scheme will be the focus of enhanced investment, sustained over time and integrated into a comprehensive Performance Plan aimed at achieving clear targets at the highest levels.

This funding is additional and complementary to the funding budgeted for National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) in 2005. The annual grants to NGBs were allocated in January. An announcement on the comprehensive high performance supports for National Governing Bodies will be made in the near future. The High Performance Unit of the Council will be engaging directly with the Performance Directors on the Performance Plans and on the Athens Review, ensuring that each athlete and coach is aware of the Athens Review and how it is likely to impact on them in the future.

Pat O'Neill, Chairperson of the Irish Sports Council, said that: "The International Carding Scheme was the vehicle for transforming the supports available to our top athletes. The time has come to build on the progress made to date and to begin implementing the recommendations of the Athens Review. The Council remains committed to our elite athletes and to ensuring they can reach their true potential, fairly".

John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council, commented;

"This investment is essential continuity from the Athens cycle into the Beijing cycle. At elite world level there are always challenges to meet in order to achieve success. The Athens Review sets out in clear terms what those challenges are in the current Irish context. The Council is totally committed to our elite squads and to developing their talent from junior ranks into world-class performers".  

Background to the Scheme

The International Carding Scheme was introduced in 1998 to provide a range of supports, both financial and non-financial, to assist Ireland's most talented players and athletes realise their potential at the highest international levels. Criteria for qualification for the Scheme are agreed on a sport-by-sport basis with the relevant National Governing body (NGB).

The Scheme provides financial support to those athletes who need such assistance to meet necessary out of pocket expenses related to training, coaching, competition and general living expenses not otherwise covered by their NGB.

The non-financial aspects of the Scheme are coordinated and administered by the National Coaching and Training Centre (NCTC), based at the University of Limerick. All Carded athletes are entitled to access to these services free of charge. A key feature of the Scheme is the provision of a network of service providers nationally and internationally. Athletes have access to top quality science and medical support adjacent to their training base.

For further information,

Paul McDermott 01-8608802

Michael O'Keeffe 01-6602744