Federation CEO Mary O’Connor was interviewed on Sport for Business ahead of Thursday’s Annual Conference.

Here is what she had to say about the opportunity to learn from those who will be speaking…

This Thursday at Trinity College, Irish sport will come face to face with its potential to increase national participation, and its ability to deliver medals at the highest level of world sport.

The Federation of Irish Sport has brought the two key architects of New Zealand’s success in both areas to Dublin for what CEO Mary O’Connor describes as a “once in a lifetime chance to learn from the best”

Peter Miskimmin is the CEO of Sport New Zealand and he, together with Geoff Barry, General Manager for Community Sport at the same body will address up to 300 sporting and societal leaders at the Conference.

They will also meet with members of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport, officials from Sport Ireland, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Olympic Council of Ireland on their whistle-stop tour.

“After the Rio Olympic Games, New Zealand was the country held up as a prime example of what was possible for a country of small population and finite resource,” said O’Connor speaking yesterday to Sport for Business.

“We within the sports sector were asked to go and learn how they delivered a high of 13 medals at the London 2012 Olympics and then rose that to 18 in Rio.”

“There is a genuine enthusiasm among sports and political leaders that putting the right structures in place, backing them with the right investment can deliver so much, for sport, for the health and the mood of the nation.”

The fact that Minister Brendan Griffin will also address the Conference is an indication of that commitment and that making time with the different groups that will have a part to play in mapping a long-term future for sport at participation and performance levels can only be of real benefit.

The Government will shortly publish a new National Sports Policy and it is to be hoped that many of the lessons seen from afar in New Zealand and elsewhere will be incorporated. Sense checking the assumptions with the people who have delivered is a great next step and the Federation is to be applauded for making it happen.

“Sport has always been willing to share knowledge, added O’Connor. “The similarities between our two countries are obvious with a real and genuine love of sport, one particular sport which dominates but which also creates an environment where volunteer and physical activity are ingrained not only as part of communities but also as part of both our national DNA.

“We are in the midst of an incredibly active and successful sports capital programme and we want to learn how we can best look to increase investment now in the people and the programmes that will leverage the greatest return from our facilities.”

“What we learn from Peter and Geoff will help us all to be as informed as we can be way on the way to an overall brighter sporting future.”

O’Connor will also speak to Thursday’s conference, on The Value of Sport, alongside President of the Olympic Council of Ireland and CEO of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane.

Sport for Business will be there on Thursday and will be reporting on what we hear from among a roomful of leaders. It would be worthwhile also from a business perspective to see what can be done with the right investment in the right places.

There are a limited number of tickets still available, at a price of only €35, and it would be well worth dropping by if you are in the area.

This interview first appeared on Tuesday, May 29th on Sport for Business