It is widely acknowledged that Mentoring has the potential to be a very powerful strategy in supporting the development of coaches in sport; both in the immediate and longer term future. Effective mentoring programmes can improve an individual’s behaviour and practice and accelerate learning throughout a sport’s coaching system.

In recent times, a number of governing bodies have identified the implementation of a coach mentoring system within their sport as a priority area and it was within this context that Sport Northern Ireland facilitated the delivery of the sports coach UK Mentor Training course on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 March 2013.

The training, which can lead to the achievement of the 1st4sport Level 3 Award in Workforce Mentoring, provides learners with an introduction to the principles and practice of mentoring a workforce, including:

  • Roles and responsibilities in relation to mentoring
  • Identifying individual mentoring needs
  • Techniques to establish and maintain the mentoring relationship
  • Planning, organising and conducting workplace mentoring sessions
  • Reviewing progress in the mentoring relationship
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of mentoring practice
  • Monitoring, assessing and recording learners’ progress
  • Monitoring and reviewing workplace mentoring performance

Delivered by Ian Stafford, a National Trainer with sports coach UK, the two-day course was attended by a range of coach education and development personnel from athletics (Athletics NI), golf (PGA ), netball (Netball NI), rugby (Ulster Rugby) and swimming (Swim Ireland and Swim Ulster).

Initial feedback from the learners has been extremely positive. Charlotte Parker, Director of Education with Swim Ireland said: “I found the training very useful and relevant for my role as Director of Education. There are a range of opportunities across all areas of the workforce where the SI education team would provide mentoring support to individuals. The SI education team have set up mentoring in the past for our team managers and officials and we are looking at setting up mentoring programmes to support our high performing coaches in the future. The course was incredibly useful and outlines the mentor’s role in great detail and the considerations in setting up a mentoring programme. What is also great is that professional individuals working in sport can also gain recognition and formal certification for developing their own skills.”

Niamh Kitching, the recently appointed Coach Education Manager for the PGA in Ireland commented: “The Mentoring training was a very useful couple of days for us. Ian Stafford is a wonderful tutor, and we had plenty of opportunity to challenge and discuss best practice. With the PGA’s formal coaching qualifications in place for many years, golf has a wealth of experienced PGA Professionals who already support the training and mentoring of our young golf coaches. In time we hope to expand this culture of support to the governing body coaches, and particularly those who work in golfer participation and performance.”

David Smyth, Sport Northern Ireland’s Coach Education and Development Consultant said: “The concept of mentoring is not new but over the past 18 months Sport Northern Ireland has been working in partnership with a number of governing bodies to identify the key factors which need to be considered, planned for and addressed to enable structured, coordinated and measurable programmes to be rolled out within Northern Ireland. This training, together with the recently produced ‘Planning and Managing a Mentoring Programme in Sport’ resource, forms part of wider package of support that Sport Northern Ireland can offer to organisations that wish to address the area of mentoring. I look forward to supporting the further development of this work in the coming months.”

For further information or to access a copy of the ‘Planning and Managing a Mentoring Programme in Sport’ resource, please contact David Smyth on 028 9038 3214 / or visit