General Sports Information
- Special Olympics Ireland is a year round programme of sports training and competition opportunities for people with a learning disability.
- Athletes may participate in a training programme from six years of age and compete from eight years of age; there is no upper age limit.
- Special Olympics Ireland offers training and competition in 13 official sports:
- Tenpin Bowling,
- Table Tennis.
- In addition, two popular sports, Kayaking and Pitch and Putt, are offered.
- Special Olympics is unique in that it offers a programme of sport and events for all levels of ability.
Athletes or teams are grouped in divisions to ensure fair competition and each athlete or team is recognised for his/her performance.
- A comprehensive Motor Activities Training Programme (MATP) is offered for athletes who do not have the required skill level as yet to compete under Special Olympics or National Governing Body Rules.
- A Unified Sports™ Programme is in the development stages; this programme combines athletes with and without a learning disability on the same sports teams.
- The Special Olympics programme in Ireland is organised on a 32 county basis and competition is offered at area, regional and national level.
A number of leagues and inter centre/club events are organised throughout the year which offer additional competitive opportunities to athletes to develop.
- The Official Special Olympics Sports Rules govern all Special Olympics competition.
These rules are based on the relevant International Federation and the rules of each individual country’s National Governing Body (NGB). International rules apply at international competition and NGB rules apply at area, regional and national competition except when either is in conflict with the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules. In such cases, the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules apply.
- Special Olympics Ireland believes that a quality coach education programme is essential to ensure that each athlete has the opportunity to train to his/her potential.
Special Olympics Ireland offers an introductory coaching course, which is non-sport specific to all new coaches entering the coach education system.
Coaches are then actively encouraged to take their coaching levels on the respective National Governing Body ladder.
Where there are specific Special Olympics events in a particular sport an additional module is offered to the coach to cover this aspect. This system ensures that all coaches receive a very comprehensive coach education experience and has the necessary knowledge to coach their athletes.