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Benchmarking the effectiveness of the sport development system within the Gaelic Athletic Association


   Faculty of Life and Health Sciences

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  Dr Paul Donnelly, Dr Kyle Ferguson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This studentship is based in Belfast. 

Previous research has focussed on high performance, international, and (predominantly) professional sporting systems, but that this research aims to shine a light on amateur and volunteer sport (which makes up a far greater degree of the sporting systems nationally and internationally).

The use of benchmarking in sport management has historically been employed to evaluate the relative strengths of nations’ elite sport development systems (e.g. De Bosscher et al 2006, 2015) or the performance of public sport and leisure centres (e.g. Liu 2009 (a), Liu 2009 (b)). By contrast, little research attention has been paid to amateur and volunteer sport, which account for a far greater share of sporting systems nationally and internationally than elite sport and publicly owned facilities. The case of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) provides an ideal opportunity to undertake an original programme of research into a unique sports organisation, which is striving to professionalise its work and to use evidence-based best practice principles to develop the sport. This proposed study seeks to work in partnership with the GAA by embedding a PhD student within the organisation to investigate the sport development landscape within the Association following the recent introduction of its new Gaelic Games Player Pathway (GAA, 2021). This pathway which aims to address elitism to underage development, make quality coaching within clubs a lynchpin and to provide an opportunity for lifelong participation in its games for every boy and girl, regardless of their ability. This research will be a mixture of quantitative and qualitative work will consider the following research questions: (1) What factors influence the GAA’s sport development landscape? (2) How do administrators, coach educators, coaches, members, and other stakeholders influence these factors? (3) What are the impacts of these factors on the experiences of administrators, coach educators, coaches, players, members and other key stakeholders? The successful applicant will study within the School of Sport within the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University. The PhD studentship project will focus on a particular area of interest surrounding the sports development system within the GAA. The successful applicant will have a background (masters degree preferred) in either sport development, sport management, sports science or a related field. The successful candidate will have experience with different research methodologies (e.g., quantitative, and qualitative). 

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