Linking Leaders at the Top of their Game

Sport Into Business 2

Sport Northern Ireland, in association with Phoenix Natural Gas, has launched an exciting new ‘Sport Into Business’ programme at a special event held at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown, which aims to link leaders from the world of sport and business in an innovative way for mutual benefit.  

Some of Northern Ireland’s top athletes, sporting legends and business leaders will participate in the year-long mentoring programme, which has been developed by Sport Northern Ireland Sports Institute and is supported by business partner, Phoenix Natural Gas.  

The programme aims to develop the skills athletes gain in their individual sport to better prepare them for a successful career in business, whilst also giving business leaders a valuable insight into how the skills acquired in the sporting arena can be applied in business.   

Gary Longwell, Performance Skills Coach at the Sports Institute, said, “Over the past number of years I have worked with Northern Ireland’s top athletes and coaches at all stages of their careers through the Sports Institute. It became apparent to me that athletes nearing the end of their sporting career and considering their next step felt unsupported in making the transition and unsure of what to do next.  

“Having worked so closely with athletes I’ve seen first-hand their motivation, dedication, persistence and commitment to their sport, qualities which are very much required in the business world to drive growth and ultimately success. With such transferable skills inherent in athletes, a gap was identified for a programme to support athletes considering their future career path, and to up skill business leaders to understand how sporting skills can be used to benefit their business.  

“The Sport Into Business Programme will explore the transfer of skills and abilities of those at the top of their game in sport and business, linking the two through a dedicated yearlong mentoring programme. We are delighted to officially launch the programme today at the University of Ulster and we are looking forward to working with various athletes and businesses over the next 12 months to deliver an impactful programme of real benefit for all involved.”  

Speaking on the partnership, Michael McKinstry, Group Chief Executive Officer at Phoenix Natural Gas, said, “As a company, Phoenix Natural Gas has long valued the link between the corporate and sporting worlds and we are involved in a number of programmes to support and develop local sporting talent.  

“The skills that athletes must demonstrate in their field, such as a positive attitude, a compelling vision, a strong work ethic and being highly motivated to achieve high goals are all skills that are required to succeed in business. We are delighted to partner with Sports Institute Northern Ireland on this exciting new initiative which for the very first time aims to explore this link in a meaningful and engaging way.”   

For further information on the programme, or to register your interest, please contact Gary Longwell, Sports Institute on: 07739673000 or email