Student Sport Ireland hosted a workshop for the Women’s Student Coach Academy on Thursday 20th of April at the Sports Campus, Dublin with a panel discussion featuring Janet Walsh of New Ross BC.

The Women’s Student Coaching Academy is a collaborative programme between SSI, Sport Ireland, 26 third level institutions and ten national governing bodies of sport (NGBs).

The ten NGBs include; Athletics Ireland, Badminton Ireland, Basketball Ireland, the Camogie Association, the Football Association of Ireland, Hockey Ireland, the Irish Rugby Football Union, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Rowing Ireland, and Volleyball Ireland.

The aim of the programme is to provide the female student coaches with the support system that will enable the students to develop and reach their coaching potential. Furthermore, the programme aims to increase the number, and visibility, of female coaches in third level institutions and create female role models for other female students to progress into coaching who are currently significantly less common than male coaches in third level institutions.

Janet Walsh of New Ross Boat Club, Co. Wexford is a true role model for women starting their coaching journey as she shared valuable insights as part of a panel discussion. Featured on the panel with Janet were:

– Athletics Ireland 8x time All Ireland Triple jump champion Sarah Buggy who coaches primary aged children multi sports and fundamental movement skills.

-Basketball Ireland Leinster Head Coach Erin Bracken who has over 10 years coaching experience in competitive superleague basketball.

-Sports Development Officer Chloe Farrell who shared her experience in various coaching settings.

Questions were posed to the panel by the female student coaches in attendance about their coaching journey, its beginnings, biggest challenges, what has kept them going and what they enjoy most.

A key takeaway from Janet was ”take the opportunities and don’t doubt yourself’‘ a mantra which has seen Janet go from strength to strength in her own coaching. This combined with dedication to learn her craft and an ability to learn from role models has enabled Janet to coach World Championships crews at Junior and U23 level in recent years.

Janet spoke about the importance of role models and reaching out to coaches you connect with or are similar to and how many of the issues you might face in your coaching journey are being faced in other settings so its important to share and learn from your network. She spoke about the simplicity of picking up the phone to get some advice from a fellow coach and also sharing training days especially with coaches in your region.

This kind of advice will likely be invaluable to the student coaches as they begin their coaching journey and will help them to stay involved through life stages. The panel also discussed how special coaching is and that the relationships built and rewards from seeing people progress and grow in confidence is more enjoyable long term than any medal wins. They spoke of coaches and role models they admire the most as those who show kindness over the years and offer encouragement to all in the sport, creating a sense of community.

We look forward to working with Student Sport Ireland on the academy as it develops further and to Noel Holohan of Student Sport Ireland for organising and we wish Janet all the best for a busy regatta season, thanking her for taking the time to come to speak to these young female coaches.

For any queries regarding this programme, please email