Irish Sports Council Reviews Athletes Grant Scheme

Updated: November 18, 2012
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The Irish Sports Council today published a review into the future of the International Carding Scheme, the programme which provides grant payments directly to high performance athletes.

The Scheme accounts for about 25% of the Council’s investment in high performance sport.
· A programme of direct funding to athletes will be retained

· After a transition process it will be delivered by the National Governing Body of the Sport

· A budget will be retained but individual bands will be adjusted over time based on athlete need

· Criteria will be simplified with a stronger emphasis on Olympic and Paralympic performance

· Supported athletes will be required to commit to delivery of a “social contract”

KKP Management Consultants were contracted to review the Scheme. The Review includes a wide range of recommendations that will be applied across a variety of sports. Full implementation will take some time and will need to be implemented on a phased basis. The Review provides a framework for the transition of the Carding Scheme. In 2013 the Carding Scheme will be similar to recent years but, as changes come into effect, will look entirely different by the end of the Rio cycle. There will be a number of crucial changes next year.

· The Performance Incentive Payments, medical exemptions and pro rata payments will no longer be part of the Carding Scheme. It is for the NGB to take care of these elements in future.

· Teams and pro-Tour team cyclists are no longer eligible for support under Carding. They can be supported under Performance Plans.

· Sports that do not have a supported performance plan will not be eligible for Carding in 2013. These include archery, fencing, table tennis, taekwondo and gymnastics. Athletes can be supported by the NGB through their core grant allocation.

Over time, the management and administration of the Carding Scheme will be transferred into high performance funded sports. This will allow the scheme in its new form to become a seamless part of a Performance Plan managed by the Performance Director of each sport. The Council will adopt a new role in overseeing the scheme through a robust monitoring and evaluation process. Targeted NGBs will be identified through the 2013 planning process, with the aim of transferring Carding responsibilities, where appropriate, by 2014.

Kieran Mulvey, Chairman of the Irish Sports Council, Commented; “The Carding Scheme has contributed to the significant and measurable improvements in results by Irish athletes in recent years. The recommendations of the Review are progressive and will ensure that the Scheme continues to deliver value. Specifically the transfer of the management of the Scheme to sports is consistent with the Council’s aim of building capacity within sports and, I am sure, will be widely welcomed”.

The individual payment bands are likely to stay in place for 2013 but that is subject to final approval by the board of the Council when the budget allocation for 2013 is known. They will be replaced in 2014 with a more flexible system that better reflects the cost of living needs of the recipient athletes.

John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council; “The Carding Scheme has benefitted many Irish athletes who have performed with great distinction in international sport. However the sports sector has changed, not least the high performance environment, so the Scheme needs to evolve. The Review is comprehensive and reflects the many opinions sought. It sets out a roadmap for the future of the Scheme which will see it change while retaining the key principle of direct athlete support”.

The International Carding Scheme has, since its introduction in 1998, been a central part of the high performance system in Ireland. Notwithstanding some significant amendments, notably in 2005 and 2010, the Carding Scheme has remained a constant pillar of the system. Following the London Games it was timely to review its impact and future role.

The Carding Review is just one aspect of the work currently underway within the High Performance System. A full series of post-Olympic and Paralympic NGB debriefs are close to completion . The next phase of NGB High Performance Planning is also underway.

Recommendations from the debriefs will be factored into the performance plans of each targeted sport for the next cycle to Rio 2016. The Council aims to ensure that future investment decisions are evidence-based and appropriate to the findings in both the Carding Review and the NGB debriefs. The focus for the next cycle will be on developing high quality, multi-annual performance plans. Criteria based assessments will be used to measure the medal potential of each sport.

The Institute of Sport is delivering the Performance Transition Programme for Olympic and Paralympic Athletes. This programme was launched before the London Games and provides support to athletes as they adjust to key challenges during the post-Games period.

Before the end of 2012 the Council will re-establish Operational Agreements, and working groups, with the Olympic Council of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland. This collaborative approach developed over the past decade based on mutual recognition of role and function. It is intended that this approach will continue for the next Quadrennial Cycle to Rio 2016.

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