Sports development officer

Works to provide participation opportunities for all sections of the community in all kinds of sports activities.

Job description

Sports development officers (SDOs) are committed to providing participation opportunities for all sections of the community in all kinds of sports activities. Working with organisations including local authorities, schools and governing bodies, their primary goal is to ensure that suitable programmes and training services are in place on local, national and international levels.

SDOs promote access to physical activities and sports programmes with the aim of engaging dissenfranchised people in structured, positive activities, and guiding them away from social problems such as drug misuse. Sports Development provides opportunities for people to try out new activities and to participate at a level that is comfortable by developing facilities, delivering programmes and breaking down barriers to participation. Officers have the duty of making sure local resources are used to the best effect and that the most deprived members of the community have access to these services.

SDOs will often work in conjunction with schools, local police, governing bodies, drug task forces and outreach groups to provide the community with diverse and varied programmes, such as horse riding, rugby, swimming and martial arts.
While increasing participation for all is central to their role, sport is an effective tool in engaging young people, particularly those at risk, into more constructive activities.

Work activities

  • Working in partnership with schools, community groups and centres to increase access for young people to sports.
  • Motivating and facilitating people within the community to take advantage of all opportunities to participate in sport.
  • Establishing programmes to meet local objectives.
  • Creating links between clubs, organisations and key agencies in local sport recreation.
  • Assisting sports clubs and groups in applying for funding.

Work conditions

Travel: a regular feature of the working day.
Working hours: can involve irregular and unsocial hours such as evening, weekends and public holidays depending on target group or time of year.
Location: opportunities exist mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible.

Typical employers

  • Vocational education committees (VEC)
  • City and county councils
  • Local sports partnerships (LSPs)
  • Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • Universities and colleges
  • Sports clubs
  • National governing bodies (NGBs) and community groups.

Career development

Progression and development will vary depending on employing organisation but opportunities to move from a local to national level is possible with experience.


Salaries vary depending on employing organisation.

Specific degree subjects required

Open to non-graduates and graduates of all disciplines. The degree subject is less important than the possession of relevant skills and experience however, there are various diplomas and degrees in sports science or sport related activity available.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Physical education
  • Psychology
  • Sociology.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Specific entry requirements

Pre-entry experience is essential. If working with young people, Garda vetting may be required.

A full driving licence and access to independent transport may also be required.

Tips for application

Knowledge of sporting networks through experience of promoting sport in the community is valuable. Gain as much experience of sport and sports development as possible in areas such as strategic planning, knowledge of the school system, voluntary and local authority sectors. Get involved as a volunteer with Local Sports Partnership (LSP) programmes or administration needs. Try to obtain experience in a whole variety of sport.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent communication skills both written and verbal.
  • Excellent level of physical fitness, and interest in sports.
  • Excellent leadership and motivational skills.
  • Confidence and ability to engage with and encourage young people to fulfil their potential.
  • Ability to multi-task and delegate.