Sport

Healy: Irish athletics needs better support

August 28th, 2022 4:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Phil Healy raced in the women's 4x400m final at the recent European Athletics Championships.

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BY KIERAN McCARTHY

PHIL Healy insists Irish athletics – and, in particular, volunteer coaches – need much better support if the sport is to continue growing.

The Bandon AC sprint star was part of the Irish women’s 4x400m relay team that finished sixth at the European Athletics Championships in Munich. It was an encouraging championships for Irish athletics, as both Ciara Mageean and Mark English won medals, while a number of athletes set new personal bests and reached European finals.

Healy, however, insists athletics must receive better financial support from the Goverment if athletes’ potential is to be realised.

‘What this relay team has done is massive already, but it shows where we can go too. Every athlete needs to improve individually. We have people who were part of the qualifying team who weren’t part of the squad in Munich, because the squad keeps growing and growing. It definitely needs to be supported going forward,’ the Ballineen woman told The Southern Star.

‘We got to Tokyo with the Irish mixed 4x400m relay team and that was a non-funded team. After the Games we got €60,000 in funding straightaway. The athletes don’t see that money directly, but every athlete is supported. Now we have an unfunded team that has come sixth at the European Championships.

'Our system is a bit backward in ways because you have to get the performance first before you get funded. You are not supported along the way.

'Yes, some of the athletes are individually funded. Not all of the athletes are individually funded. It is a backwards system.’

 

Healy also highlighted how athletics coaches have to dip into their own pockets to cover their expenses as they train Irish athletes to perform on the European and world stages. This has to change, she insists.

‘You have coaches who are expected to get these top-eight, top-ten finishes in Europe, but they are doing this as a volunteer,’ Healy explains.

‘Look at sport in Ireland, and you have GAA club teams who are paying their coaches a small fortune, and inter-county GAA is a whole other ball game, yet we are here on an international level with volunteer coaches who don’t even get their expenses paid. 

‘Yes, we have a number of coaches and maybe it’s hard to support them, but something has to be done. The sport will fall apart if we don’t have our volunteers. If you want the results to improve something has to drastically change. The coach is there to help the athlete, but if the coach is not supported, the coach can’t help the athlete and you won’t get the results. It has to change fast.’

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