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Local Enterprise Offices’ Sport to Start-Up Programme Launched

A new intake for the Sport to Start-Up programme was launched by Minister Damien English T.D. at the Sport Ireland Institute in Blanchardstown. The programme, which is run by the Local Enterprise Offices supported by Enterprise Ireland and Sport Ireland, enables full time sports people engage in entrepreneurship and explore setting up their own businesses.

The initiative is now open for applications with the 2022 programme beginning in mid-November and a free online taster for potential participants takes place on Thursday 27th October.  

The programme began in 2020 and since then over 60 full time Irish sports people have taken part including the likes of Olympic medalist Gary O’Donovan, Paralympic medalists Michael McKillop and Niamh McCarthy, League of Ireland players Paddy Kirk and Patrick Hoban, Irish cricketer Kevin O’Brien, Irish hockey player Nicci Daly and Irish champion boxer Adam Hession. 

Minister Damien English said, “the Sport to Start-Up programme is the first of its kind for full time sports people in Ireland and allows them to use their transferable skills and apply them to a business idea they may have. It’s a fantastic initiative by the Local Enterprise Offices in partnership with Sport Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.” 

“We see many Irish sports people go into business and indeed set up businesses after they finish competing so it is great to now have a pathway of support that they can join before retirement and begin building for a life in after sport.  We hope to see our current sports stars become the next wave of entrepreneurs, creating new businesses and jobs across the country.”

The programme, which is based around the Local Enterprise Offices Start Your Own Business Programme, starts with ideation and brings participants right through the key areas of starting a business from validation, customer journey and market research through to legal and compliance, funding, sales and marketing and pitching. They finish the programme with a business plan for their business.

Orlagh Farmer, Six-in-a-row All-Ireland winner with Cork, Louth GAA star Ciaran Byrne, Irish rugby Sevens international Hugo Lennox and Irish champion boxer Adam Hession were in attendance at the launch to outline how the programme benefitted them. 

Orlagh Farmer is now rolling out her own programmes across schools in Ireland through her EmpowerEd Coaching business to engage and retain more girls in sport, while Ciaran Byrne has established his own Bodyrock Reformer Pilates business in Louth.

Oisin Geoghegan, Local Enterprise Offices, said, “the Sport to Start-Up programme has been a great initiative for sports people across the country. There has been significant interest to date and great to see so many have already been through the programme.  It is important to remember that the programme enables participants to take those first steps but it also gives them the resources and opens them up to the entrepreneurial eco-system so if it is not the right time now, they know where to go in the future. This is a hugely beneficial programme and is giving sports people that chance to plan for a life after sport.”

Enda McDonnell, Enterprise Ireland, said, “this programme is a great initiative between the Local Enterprise Offices, Sport Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. It is positive to see this cross-agency collaboration working to help both existing sportspeople look to the future but also helping the LEOs and Enterprise Ireland create a new group of potential entrepreneurs and business owners for the future.”   

Una May, Chief Executive, Sport Ireland, said, “the Sport to Start Up Programme has brought a very unique career and personal development opportunity to full time sportspeople. Everything about the initiative is bespoke and geared towards the needs of the participants, allowing them to progress through the modules alongside their busy training and competition schedules.”

“The feedback from the athletes and players we support has been fantastic, many noting the unexpected benefits of networking, sharing ideas and learning alongside their peers from different sports as the course progressed. Our current and future sporting stars possess skills and characteristics that can help pave the way to becoming successful entrepreneurs and this terrific programme continues to create a safe space for them to explore and develop their ideas with the guidance of the experts.”

Source: Sport Ireland

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