Board Recruitment Service

What it is?

The Board Recruitment Service is an initiative to support sporting organisations in identifying talent for their board positions which is being run by the Federation of Irish Sport and supported by Sport Ireland. The service aims to assist both National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships in bringing expertise, independence and diversity to their boards. 

As the focus on good governance increases in the sporting sector there is an ever-growing need for such a service dedicated solely to sport and the many nuances sporting organisations face. The recruitment service will not only help to identify suitable talent for the organisations but also provide a one stop shop for opportunities for those wishing to get involved in a sporting organisation at board level. It will give individuals the opportunity to expand their involvement in sport or give back to the sector after a career or lifetime of experience within it. This service aims to be another positive support mechanism for organisation’s who are on the road to improving their governance.

How does it work?

The service houses a database of candidates who have expressed an interest in joining the board of a sporting organisation. All candidates will be held on file for a minimum of one year. Sporting organisations will submit requests to the service as and when their board positions arise and the Federation will match suitable candidates with each organisation’s needs. It is estimated that there will be between 40 and 60 board or committee positions needed each year. There is no guarantee that a particular candidate will be placed on a board throughout the first year but we endeavor to connect as many willing candidates with sporting bodies as possible.

All expressions of interest will be provisionally cross checked by the Federation of Irish Sport against references provided. Any further engagement, screening or interviewing will be conducted by each individual organisation once matched with suitable candidate(s).

The Federation of Irish Sport will provide training courses in collaboration with Sport Ireland for candidates on the database. This training will cover basic areas of governance, compliance with the code and the roles and responsibilities of a director. Any further training or specific information sharing will be conducted by individual organisations once a candidate has been successfully placed. 

The database will be categorized by specific skill area (ie: legal/comms/marketing/strategy) and organisations are encouraged to give as much detail as possible in relation to the area of expertise they may need.

Board Readiness Training Programme for Females

The Federation of Irish Sport with support from the Sport Ireland Women in Sport fund initiated a pilot Board Readiness Training programme for females who have recently been appointed to an NGB board or who have never served on a board of a sporting organisation. The pilot programme ran in November 2024. This programme was expanded to include women not currently serving on boards, or those recently appointed, with courses running in March and April. There will be an opportunity to sign up for further programmes in Autumn 2024. The programme is currently free, places are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis. Contact for more details. 

The programme is presented by Sarah O’Shea (see bio below) and Mary O’Connor CEO Federation of Irish Sport.

Sarah O’ Shea is a qualified solicitor and holds an International Masters in Sports Law and Management. Having practised as a Solicitor in general practice she joined the Football Association of Ireland in 2005 as the first in house lawyer in an Irish Sport’s Governing Body and later became Deputy Chief Executive. While working in the FAI she worked on major projects including the Europa League Final, the Aviva Stadium, the Euro 2020 bid, as well as establishing a new disciplinary and legal
services structure within the organisation. Sarah was also appointed to the UEFA HatTrick Committee and as a UEFA mentor for women working in football across Europe. She left her role in the FAI in 2015 in order to set up her own business in sports consultancy.

 It has been an informative and interactive programme, ensuring candidates are prepared to operate effectively at board level. 

 The programme gives an overview of the following topics;

  • Sporting landscape
  • Sport and Gender Equality
  • Legal context
  • Governance
  • Sporting Boards
  • Membership
  • Strategy


How can you get involved?

If you are a candidate:

If you are an organisation:

  • Confirm your organisation’s interest in using the service and the contact details of the main point of contact with via email
  • As and when you need positions filled, complete the ‘Expression of Need form‘ and we will assist from there.

Please note that by submitting an expression of interest or need form you are consenting to the Federation of Irish Sport holding your data as provided for the purpose of the provision of this board recruitment service for the period of one year. Furthermore you are agreeing to have your references checked by Federation staff. All candidates also acknowledge and understand that acceptance to the database does not guarantee placement on a board and any candidate will be selected for a position based on their suitability for a role as decided by individual organisations. For further information on any of the steps of the process please contact