Athletes who show potential to make senior World Championship or Olympic / Paralympic Teams may be eligible for Sport NI funding through the Sport NI: Athlete Investment Programme (AIP). Those tracking towards World Class Performance may also be supported by the Mary Peters Trust. Athletes operating just below the levels required to gain AIP may be eligible for assistance through the Athletics NI Competition Support Programme. Finally, many local councils offer small grants to young athletes.

What programmes are available?

Athletes can gain performance funding through two key mechanisms:

In addition athletes may benefit for support through:

Athlete Investment Programme

Sport NI provide Athletics NI with the funding through what is known as the 'Athlete Investment Programme' (AIP). The amount of money allocated to the programme varies with each Sport NI financial year, which begins in April and runs until March. This funding is also not guaranteed and can be increased, reduced or withdrawn completely at the start of each financial year.

AIP funding is distributed to athletes across Northern Ireland based on their current performance level. To be eligible for AIP athletes must usually have either represented GB or Ireland at a World Championship or Olympic/Paralympic Games or gained the necessary qualification standard within the past two years. Athletes who have reached the semi-final or final of the Commonwealth Games or won a medal at World Juniors or European U23s may also be considered for AIP provided the amount of funding allocated to Atheltics NI is sufficient to provide for athletes at higher performance levels.

During Commonwealth Games years athletes who have qualified for the Games or show potential to represent Northern Ireland may also be supported, provided additional funding is made available by Sport NI.
Because the level of funding allocated to Athletics NI can fluctuate from funding cycle to funding cycle the exact entry criteria and amount awarded to each athlete varies from year to year. 

From April 2015 until March 2016 Athletics NI were allocated funding of £38,545.  During this period, this money funds roughly 15-20 athletes from across Northern Ireland.

Funding Cycles

The Sport NI funding cycle (April to March) does not fit with the Athletics season (October to September). This is somewhat problematic because Athletics NI do not learn how much funding is allocated for the following Sport NI financial year, which begins in April, until roughly two months before (typically February). Hence at the beginning of each Athletic’s season (October), athletes who are selected to receive AIP for the upcoming season can only be guaranteed the money that has already been allocated until March. Further funding beyond March is then contingent on the grant for the next financial year.

For example, in 2015 Athletics NI split their initial allocation of £18k for AIP funding for the Sport NI financial year into two parts:

  • April 2015 – September 2015 (£9,000) – 2014/2015 Athletics Season
  • October 2015 – March 2016 (£9,000) – 2015/2016 Athletics Season

At the end of September 2015 the £9,000 from April 2015 – September 2015 began to be paid to athletes who were funded during the 2014/2015 season.

At the start of October 2015, athletes were selected to receive funding for the 2015/2016 season. The £9,000 put aside for October 2015 until March 2016 was then allocated amongst these athletes. Once Sport NI announce funding levels for the April 2016 – March 2017 financial year these athletes can then potentially be allocated 50% of this funding to cover the rest of the 2015/2016 season.

Historical Funding Levels

The money allocated to Athletics NI for AIP can increase, decrease or be withdrawn completely with each funding cycle. The funding allocated to Athletics NI over previous funding cycles is displayed below:

  • April 2013 – March 2014: £33,000
  • April 2014 – March 2015: £43,500
  • April 2015 – March 2016: Initially £18,000 – due to DETI funding cuts, then later topped up to £38,545.
  • April 2016 - March 2017: this figure has not yet been announced as of 16 May 2016.

These figures are a matter of public record and can be found on the Sport NI website.

Athlete Funding Bands

Athletes funded through AIP are split into four broad categories A, B, C or D: where A are funded the most and D the least. Within each category the exact amount of money provided to each athlete may vary within a range, based on performance level and perceived need.

For the 2015/2016 season from October 2015 – March 2016 the funding was allocated as follows:

  • A: £1200-£2000
  • B: £750-£1000
  • C: £0-£750 (These athletes were put forward for Mary Peter’s Trust awards)
  • D: £0 (These athletes were put forward for Mary Peter’s Trust awards)

Funding from April 2016 until September 2016 will be evaluated once the AIP award for the next financial year is disclosed.

Athlete’s Funded for Elite Performance

For the 2015/2016 season the following athletes are being funded for Elite Performance:

“A” Funded Athletes:

  • Ben Reynolds
  • Breige Connolly
  • Caira Mageean
  • Gladys Ganiel (from February 2016)
  • Kerry O’Flaherty
  • Kevin Seaward
  • Paul Pollock
  • Sally Brown

“B” Funded Athletes:

  • Amy Foster
  • Leon Reid

“C” Funded Athletes:

  • Christine McMahon
  • Katie Kirk
  • Adam McMullen (from February 2016)

“D” Funded Athletes:

  • Andrew Barkley
  • Ben Fisher
  • Megan Mars
  • Rosanna McGuckian

Mary Peter’s Trust

Mary Peter’s Trust provide grants to aspiring young athletes. Athletics NI submit grant applications to MPT on behalf of athletes who have achieved competitive success. MPT then award money directly to the athletes based on their performance level and degree of perceived need. Applications are considered by MPT twice a year in September and March.

In September 2015 MPT offered three awards:

  • Mary Peters Trust Award
  • King George VI Award
  • Dale Farm Award

More details of these awards are available from Mary Peter’s Trust.

Because the September application period fits nicely with the start of the Athletics season, Athletics NI usually put forward athletes at this time of year. In the event that an athlete makes a breakthrough performance during the Indoor or Cross Country season we may occasionally submit applications in March.

The Role of MPT in funding Elite Performance

The MPT Awards provide a supplemental funding mechanism for athletes that fall within the B & C funding bands. We are extremely grateful for MPT for helping to fund these promising athletes.

Mary Peters Trust Award Winners

For the 2015/2016 season the following athletes were awarded grants from Mary Peters Trust:

Mary Peters Trust Award:

  • Christine McMahon
  • Katie Kirk
  • Megan Mars
  • Rosanna McGuckian

Make It Happen Award:

  • Jack Agnew

King George VI Award:

  • Andrew Barkley

Dale Farm Award:

  • Ben Fisher

Athletics NI Competition Support Programme

Athletics NI offer support for athletes who have not yet reached performance levels that would qualify them for AIP through the Competition Support Programme.

Local council grants for young athletes

Many local councils offer small grants to young athletes. For more details please contact your local council or click here for more information.