This project aims to identfy who sporting role models are through the perception of Irish youth and use this information to create a sporting role model led intervention in an Irish context that aims to increase sport participation levels and decrease drop-out rate. The study will involve completing a narrative review of role model led interventions, rolling out a National Survey to Irish primary and post-primary students and lastly creating and implementing a sporting role model led intervention aimed at Irish female adolescents. The importance of this project on society is giving young girls a voice in understanding who influences them and why. The project will then use this empowered voice to match and highlight these role models who inspire and empower the next generation to live a lifetime of healthy habits through sport participation. By young girls providing us with their rationales, the project in return aims to provide them with a new cohort of positive role models that have broken and will break through the stereotype that the sporting domain is a male dominated sector. This will hopefully change the mindset of society and the way in which Ireland views women in sport and sportspeople to a more inclusive umbrella. The research shows that in order for a role model intervention to be successful, the role model needs to be attainable, successful and relevant to the admirer. Both males and females are likely to choose a male role model than a female, however females are more likely than males to identify females and males. An Australian study has shown that females with sporting female role models are more active than those without a role model. The most interesting aspect is the rationale to choosing role models, males choose a person based on physical strength and sporting success, wheareas females choose a person based on kindness, being caring, successful and attractive. Studies show that a male sporting role model just needs to be successful, but a female sporting role model must also balance their sporting success with work and social success. There is a lack of peer-reviewed articles on sporting role models, and this project aims to add to this literature gap.
Eimear is a qualified PE and Irish teacher who graduated from University of Limerick. Supervisors: Dr Aoife Lane, Dr Kieran Dowd and Dr Katie Liston (Ulster University).