The power of sport to the fore at Athlone IT events

The official launch of the seminar A Sporting Chance- Challenges for Sport on and off the Field took place on Thursday 20th September at 4.30pm in the Hospitality Restaurant in Athlone Institute of Technology.

The seminar, comprised of two events, takes place in Athlone Institute of Technology on Monday, October 1st, and aims to open the debate on all aspects of sporting life, from high performance athlete preparation to player health and well-being.

The all encompassing nature of the topics open for discussion is reflected in the event title, A Sporting Chance- Challenges for Sport on and off the Field. The organisers have amassed some of the country's leading experts in the fields, including contributors from the Irish Institute of Sport, Coaching Ireland, the GAA, plus some well known local sporting heroes. The day has been put together by a number of agencies and organisations as part of Midlands Regional Drugs Task Force (MRDTF) Drug and Alcohol Awareness week. The event also aims to highlight the ongoing work by Westmeath County Board and the GAA in the area of player and member health and well-being, and is supported by Healthy Campus AIT, the sports department, academic departments and the students union.

The first of the day's two events will focus on athlete preparation, and the challenge of juggling a sporting career with the demands of student life on and off the field. MC for the event will be Michael Duignan RTE GAA pundit and former Offaly All Ireland winning hurler. Contributors include Ken Lynch, one of the Irish Sport Institute's High Performance Managers who has worked with many of the country's top athletes, including some of our recent Olympians; Peter Francis, the lead presenter on Coaching Ireland's sports education programme; Colin Regan, the GAA's Community and Health Promotion Manger; and John Keane, Westmeath GAA All Star and County Coordinator for the GAA's Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) programme. The free event, running from 3pm-5pm in the Douglas Hyde Theatre, AIT, is specifically aimed at young athletes in education, and aims to enable them to better prepare for the challenges of both elements of their lives. 

The evening event (from 7pm-9pm also in the Douglas Hyde Theatre, AIT) turns its focus to coaches, but will also be of interest to anyone engaged in or interested in sport. MC for the evening will be Willie Hegarty of Shannonside Radio with contributors including Director of Coaching Ireland, Michael McGeehin; Westmeath GAA All Star and RTE pundit Dessie Dolan; with further contributions from Ken Lynch, Michelle Kenny, an AIT research student currently examining athlete lifestyles, and Colin Regan. Themes covered will include coach education programmes, consideration of athlete needs, balancing multi-sport commitments, talent identification, sport and alcohol and athlete lifestyle considerations and pressures.

"The open panel nature of both events will allow those present to direct a lot of the topics discussed and we are hoping the athletes and coaches who attend will take the opportunity to ask the assembled guests questions they may have been wondering about for some time," explains Regan, one of the event organisers.
"The ASAP programme has been involved in a number of successful similar events around the country in an attempt to open lines of communications on topics we don't always hear discussed in sporting circles and we were delighted to partner with AIT and the MRDTF in putting these two events together," he concluded.
The MRDTF Drug and Alcohol Awareness week will be launched by Roisan Shortall TD, Minister of State Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care and The National Drug Strategy, on Monday the 1st October 2012, in the Tullamore Court Hotel, Tullamore, Co Offaly at 11am. During the Awareness week a range of events will take place across the Midlands Region from October 1st- 5th.

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