Youth Academy Athletes return from successful Erasmus+ camp in Portugal

28 April 2017

Youth Academy Athletes return from successful Erasmus+ camp in Portugal

24 Youth Academy Athletes and accompanying staff and coaches have returned from a successful 14 day education and training programme in Portugal funded by Erasmus+.

Project Lead, Laura Kerr explained, “Thanks to Erasmus+ funding and our partnership with the Algarve Athletics Association, participants spent quality time in an elite training environment where we integrated technical sessions and performance therapy alongside educational seminars and video analysis. Our aim is for Youth Academy athletes to develop the skills and performance behaviours necessary to train and compete to a world class standard in a high performance, service supported, and international environment. This experience has given athletes a taste of the many aspects of a performance lifestyle and I hope it will help prepare them for future experiences in athletes villages and national training camps as they prepare for senior careers in athletics.  

I would particularly like to thank the following coaches for dedicating their time to furthering the development of these athletes and helping us create a very positive, productive and open environment for learning… Mark Kirk (Middle Distance), Roger Sexton (Sprints), Alan Kennedy (Horizontal Jumps and Sprints), Adam McMullen (Horizontal Jumps and Sprints), Michelle Rea (Triple Jump and Hurdles), Niall Wilkinson (High Jump) and

Michael Gibson-Performance Therapy (Soft Tissue Therapy, Spinal Manipulation.)

Additionally we would like to acknowledge the Algarve Athletics Association for their partnership and planning support which allowed us to join athletes from all over the world to undertake training sessions at Alfamar, Villamoura and Montegordo during our stay. Combined sessions with Athletes from Iceland, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Germany were instrumental in enhancing the experience of Youth Academy Athletes and increasing their cultural awareness. Athletics Ireland Relay Panel members Lauren Roy and Aaron Sexton were also able to join their Irish relay teammates and coaches for a handover practice session at Montegordo.”

Erasmus+ is the European Union’s (EU) programme for education, training, youth and sport, with the EU committing €14.7 billion to the programme between 2014 and 2020. In the UK, the programme is managed by the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK. The project entitled, ‘Developing Elite Athletic Skills in Northern Ireland’ was funded under Key Action 1 of the programme, which is about providing opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness.

Athlete Development Lead Tom Reynolds explained, “ Many of our Youth Academy Athletes will begin their outdoor seasons in the coming weeks as they pursue qualification for Commonwealth Youth Games (Nassau, Bahamas),  European Junior Championships (Grosseto, Italy) and European U23 Championships (Bydgoszcz, Poland). With temperatures in the mid 20’s the camp in Portugal provided an excellent opportunity for athletes to increase the quality and intensity of their training and to benefit from dedicated analysis and education to maximise their personal and athletic development.  Athletes took part in a workshop on applied kinesiology and self release techniques, video analysis (hurdles, pole vault and javelin) and a performance lifestyle seminar focused on nutrition, hydration, mindset and managing down time and travel for competitions and camps.  The athletes seem to have thrived and gained confidence in this environment forming a number of new friendships.  We look forward to their performances in 2017 and beyond.”

Northern Ireland Youth Academy Athletes were in action this weekend at the British Universities Championships in Bedford and a number competed at the Somerset Combined Event Championships. Personal best performances included:

Anna McCauley (U18 Heptathlon) 4699 points-Somerset

Kate O’Connor (Heptathlon) 5360 points/NI Senior Record- Somerset

          Jack Magee (Javelin)- 56.49m  BUCS-7th

          James Kelly- (5kg Shot) 18.12m-Donegal Championships

This weekend’s Open Meeting at Mary Peters Track will provide a final opportunity for Youth Athletes to improve their personal bests before the selection deadline for the Commonwealth Youth Games which takes place in the Bahama’s this July.

For more information about the Athletics NI Erasmus+ project please contact: or

For more information about funding opportunities visit, or use the hashtag #epluspeople to see what other projects are doing across the UK.


About Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. It runs for seven years, from 2014 to 2020, with organisations invited to apply for funding each year to undertake creative and worthwhile activities. Erasmus+ aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sport organisations across all sectors of lifelong learning, including school education, further and higher education, adult education and the youth sector. It offers exciting opportunities for UK participants to then study, work, volunteer, teach and train abroad in Europe.

The overall budget is €14.7 billion.Two-thirds of this funding will provide grants for more than 4 million people to study, train, gain work experience or volunteer abroad. The period abroad can range from a few days up to a year. In the UK, it is expected that nearly 250,000 people will undertake activities abroad with the programme. The programme is managed in the UK by the Erasmus+ UK National Agency, which is a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK.

Further information from

Twitter: @erasmusplusuk

Facebook: ukerasmusplus