Irish Olympians out to inspire the next generation


The big theme in Irish sport at the moment is putting role-models in front of young girls so they get involved in sport. It's a simple idea that could actually work as the latest campaign is reaching out past team games to bring sports like boxing and rowing to the fore.
 A group called "Dare to Believe" led by Olympian Roisin McGettigan is planning to bring female sports stars into schools. She's living in the US now, but her heart as they say is clearly still in Ireland; when we spoke at the launch she just laughed and said this was always her dream to run the programme here.

And of course she's a bigger name here than in the US and the support they're getting from the Olympic Federation of Ireland is crucial. 

She said: "Rewards from sport should be more intrinsic, not just about medals. This is a huge opportunity to see the greater values, the values other than striving for excellence." 

Roisin said they've been working with schools to get the programme right, so it's crossing with 39 teaching methodologies. That practical emphasis will be really big. I used to be a teacher and I remember listening with horror sometimes to speakers who just were not connecting with the kids at all. This project seems to  be giving a lot more support to the athletes than they would usually get, so they'll actually be ready for a room full of bored teenagers. 


"We're working with athletes from all over, and from the smaller sports. They will be paid, it's not just that; they will enjoy being with the kids. You need that chance to get out of your head, athletes eat, sleep, train so it's good to do something else," she said. 

It's something different for Ireland, and should be more effective than the traditional visit where a team shows up with a trophy and then leaves. There are male athletes involved too, just happened to be only women at the launch I guess. And will it work? It has great potential I think   - leaving cynicism aside - and if only a small number of students find out about a new sport than it's working.

Find out more: Dare To Believe IE

(All photos: Olympic Federation of Ireland)