Two Reviews, One Report

The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (CANI) collaborated with Sports Northern Ireland to run both a governance and performance review of its sport in parallel – specifically to identify options for alignment to the British Canoe Union and Canoeing Ireland.

Client challenge:

  • Progressing from a predominantly recreational culture to one much more closely linked to performance.
  • Improving decision-making within the NGB.
  • Engaging valuable expertise within the wider NI paddling community.
  • Being considered more ‘fit for purpose’ as part of Sports NI’s management and governance audit procedures.


We took on the challenge of running two reviews in parallel by:

  • Analysing all existing governance and structural arrangements, including CANI’s legal relationships with both the BCU and Canoeing Ireland.
  • Directly engaging with 20 key individuals as part of the governance review, and 34 under the performance review – including key Olympic and Commonwealth athletes, coaches, and Sports Institute NI support staff.
  • Auditing CANI’s current performance systems and structures in comparison to other NI sports.
  • Running an online survey for all CANI affiliated clubs to input.


CANI acted on our key recommendation to make significant cultural changes in the sport ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2014. For the governance review, it modernised its structure by reforming the CANI Council into a new Board – and for the performance review, it developed a new Performance Pathway that embraced ‘seven ingredients for success’ and offered ‘twin-track’ outlets into both the GB and Ireland representative Olympic squads.