Delegates participating in water sports at Bay Sports

AIT Hosts Conference Dedicated to Promoting and Developing Third Level Sport in Ireland

AIT’s Sports Department successfully hosted the 2018 Student Sport Ireland (SSI) Networking Conference dedicated to promoting and developing third level sport in Ireland in the Hodson Bay Hotel last week.

The annual conference, now in its 10th year, affords third level staff, students, alumni and national governing bodies of sport the opportunity to come together over the course of three days to exchange ideas and share best practice approaches.

This year, discussions on the pervasive nature of gambling in sport and its effects on mental health took centre stage and featured talks from Declan Lynch, Sunday Independent Journalist and Playwright, and Niall McNamee, former Offaly Senior Gaelic Footballer. Both men delivered solution-orientated, optimistic presentations on how this issue could be addressed in a holistic manner.

The SSI Strategic Plan 2017-2020 was also at the forefront of discussion with John Kerrane, SSI Research Committee Chairperson, delivering a presentation on a best practice approach to implementing the plan into third level institutions.

In total, more than 70 delegates representing the Sports Departments of each of the 30-affiliated member Irish Universities, Institutes of Technology and Private Colleges, participated in the three-day SSI event, delivering presentations and taking part in team building and networking activities.

Such activities included a group leisure cycle along the scenic Athlone-Mullingar Greenway with a welcome coffee stop off at Tuar Ard in Moate, a Viking Boat Trip from Hodson Bay to Sean’s Bar for a BBQ and a trip to Baysports, a water and sports training centre located along the stunning waters of Lough Ree.

Members of the SSI Research Group also attended the conference including Dr Maura Coulter, former rugby player and current lecturer in primary physical education at DCU, and Mr Ronan Keaskin, Sports Development Officer, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown.

Mr Keaskin announced that the SSI will be initiating a Sports College of the Year Award for the 2018-19 academic year. He explained that the award will likely be selected based on participation levels at each college with added bonus points for success in SSI competitions. It was noted that if the award was presented for 2017-18, AIT would have ranked third overall nationally (just behind DIT and IT Carlow) ahead of many of their IoT and University counterparts.

The three-day event also featured a conference banquet and the Event of the Year & Leadership Awards which were presented by Cora Staunton, a leading Irish Gaelic footballer and AIT alumna. University College Dublin took home the award for ‘Event of the Year’ for their work hosting the Canoeing Intervarsities while David Synnott, from University College Cork Rowing club, claimed the Student Leadership honour.

Other speakers at the SSI networking conference included Kathy Hynes of NUI Galway, who introduced the new SSI Physical Activity Online Resource, Ronan O’Neill from GMIT Castlebar and Athlone Institute of Technology PhD Candidate, David McHugh. David’s presentation looking at the challenges associated with balancing sport and education as a student athlete was particularly noteworthy.

The conference culminated in a full SSI General meeting followed by a presentation from Peter Smyth from Sport Ireland & the SSI Research Committee. In their closing remarks, Carmel Lynch, the Student Sport Ireland Honorary Chairperson, and Gordon Brett, Sport & Recreation Manager of AIT, thanked the SSI Networking Committee and David McHugh (Assistant Sports Officer AIT) for their help in making the event a success.

Student Sport Ireland is the official governing body for sport in the third level education sector in Ireland. The organisation represents member Universities, Institutes of Technology and Private Colleges at Sport Ireland level and International student sport level while also organising high-level sports leagues for Irish students.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a modern and dynamic HEI distinguished by outstanding learner experience, international focus and applied research and innovation. Awarded Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year, AIT is ranked 8th nationally of all HEIs nationally in the league table comprising of Universities and IoT’s. AIT is leading the IoT sector in the areas of innovation, applied teaching and student welfare.

Athlone Institute of Technology boasts a wide array of sports courses from B.Sc (Hons) in Athletic and Sport Rehabilitation to a B.Sc (Hons) in Health Science with Nutrition, a B.Sc (Hons) Sports Science and Exercise Physiology and more. For the full list of sports courses on offer at Athlone Institute of Technology click here.

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