PESS Graduates Contribute to Women in Sport: Female Coaches Networking Day – dr. philip kearney.


Photograph credit @MarkSmythy

Early November saw Ireland’s first Women in Sport Female Coaches Networking Day take place at the Clayton Hotel in Dublin, and gradates of the Department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences played a key role in organizing the event.

In 2021, Sport Ireland Women in Coaching Research found that access to a network was an important development tool for female coaches. In response, the Women in Sport Female Coaches Network was established through a collaboration between Cycling Ireland, Rowing Ireland, Athletics Ireland, the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, and Triathlon Ireland.


The keynote for the event was delivered by Lisa Fallon (FIFA High Performance Department). Lisa said:

“To have the opportunity to be involved in a day like today where you can get female coaches together, get them to talk to each other, share those experiences but network and become part of each other’s support structures, I think is vitally important.”


Photograph credit @MarkSmythy

Amongst the organizing committee were MSc Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology graduate Elaine Cahill (Women in Sport Officer, Cycling Ireland) and BSc Sport & Exercise Sciences graduate Ceara O’Connor (Women in Sport Lead, Rowing Ireland).

Ceara explained:

“I use my degree in sport science when designing programmes and initiatives under the 4 pillars of coaching/officiating, visibility, leadership/governance and participation [Sport Ireland Women in Sport Policy]. I would also say having my own coaching practice and experience, whilst not essential to working in sport, does definitely help you to relate in many contexts. Combining this with more in-depth knowledge of sport science topics allows me to consider many factors when working with key stakeholders in sport.”

Ceara is currently delivering a range of programmes and initiatives in Rowing Ireland, such as: 

  • Club Leadership Programme: 20 female committee members (captains, secretaries, PROs etc) learning about club development and governance and then doing a mentorship programme. 
  • Women’s Coaching Pathway: 6 coaches selected per year to do a leadership and mentoring programme followed up with opportunities for peer coaching. 
  • Women on the Water: Participation learn to row programme for adult females in clubs across the country 
  • Women in Sport Spotlight event: Head of the river women’s event this year that will be live streamed with female commentators to increase visibility of women’s sport online 
  • Get Going Get Rowing events and TY Leadership Programmes: School aged events and programmes to connect girls with rowing 

Cycling Ireland’s Women in Sport Officer Elaine Cahill said:

“We were delighted to collaborate with the four other National Governing Bodies to deliver this innovative event for female coaches. This event has come about based on feedback from female coaches who have gone through the WIS coaching programme expressing a desire to meet up with other coaches more regularly. It was brilliant to have Lisa Fallon join as keynote speaker on the day along with Dr Phil Kearney who delivered an educational session on layering the 4 Cs for optimal athlete development. Hayley Harrison facilitated a networking session where the buzz and fun from the room could be heard loud. It was an incredible day and hopefully it’s the start of more regular events for coaches.”

Elaine currently delivering on a range of programmes on behalf of Cycling Ireland and in cooperation with other sports. These programmes include:

  • Women in Sport Coaching Pathway: The aim of the programme is to develop and support female coaches through a programme of key skills, shared experiences and self-development. A key part of the success of the programme is cross sport working as we collaborate with Athletics, Boxing, Rowing and Triathlon. This programme builds a sense of community, a shared drive to achieve in their sport and a passion for improving themselves and the athletes that they coach.
  • Women in Sport Leadership Programme: The aim of this programme is to provide training, guidance and expertise to support women to thrive in leadership position in sport.
  • Women on Wheels: A participation programme aimed at beginner women where cyclists are brought through the various skills and techniques involved in cycling with a celebratory spin for the group to finish. Depending on group ability this could be anything between 20k – 50/60k.
  • Club Toolkit Engaging and retaining women and girls in cycling: Focusing on the four pillars within the Sport Ireland Policy on Women in Sport (Active Participation, Coaching & Officiating, Leadership & Governance and Visibility), this toolkit is currently being updated to include latest research and resources available to help clubs engage and retain females within their clubs. The toolkit will be relaunched in the New Year, distributed to clubs and will be available on our website. A series of workshops will be delivered to clubs to support information within the toolkit.

PESS is very proud of the work that its graduates are doing to enhance the Irish sporting landscape.

To find out more about coaching initiatives from Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport, click here or on the image below.


Dr Phil Kearney is the Course Director of the MSc Applied Sports Coaching within the PESS Department here at the University of Limerick.

View Phil’s profile:


Tagged with: