Supporting Canadian Athletes

National Sport Organizations (NSO)

A National Sport Organization (NSO) sometimes referred to as a National Sport Federation, NSF, is the national governing body for a given sport in Canada. Its members include Provincial Sport Organizations and high performance athletes within their programs. Currently, the majority of NSOs are professionally managed organizations but there are still some run primarily by devoted volunteers off the corner of their kitchen tables.

Click here for a list of Canadian NSO websites.

What does an NSO do?

Within the High Performance Program

The NSO manages the high performance program for their respective sports. This program revolves around the National Teams and includes all aspects of management, coaching, hiring, team selection.

More specifically, NSOs manage the following activities:

  • Hiring coaching staff,
  • Supervising and monitoring activities of High Performance Program Staff,
  • Selecting athletes to the National Team(s),
  • Selecting athletes for major international events and multi-sport games,
  • Negotiating with other sport organizations for support,
  • Nominating athletes, then negotiating with Sport Canada for Athlete Assistance Program funding,*
  • Communicating with other national and multi-sport service organizations on issues relating to their athletes (such as provision of team lists to Canadian Sport Centres),
  • Dealing with any athlete appeals regarding selection, carding or other sport specific issues,
  • The purchase and provision of insurance coverage for its high performance athletes and coaching staff,
  • Creating, distributing and athlete signing of an Athlete Agreement, and
  • Creating and providing team selection criteria to athletes in a timely manner.

*Click here for Sport Canada’s list of athletes and sports currently eligible for AAP funding.

In general, an NSO in Canada serves and provides the following functions:

  • Governs all aspects of a sport within the country.
  • Oversees the activities of and sets policy for its membership (may be Provincial Sport Organizations, individual athletes, coaches or others).
  • Selects members for and manages the National Team(s) (High Performance Programs).
  • Sanctions national level competitions/tournaments.
  • Operates national competitions and Canadian major international events.
  • Implements nation-wide initiatives to further develop and promote the sport.
  • Provides professional development for coaches and officials within their sport.
  • Represents Canada and the sport’s national interests to the International Sport Federation (ISF).
  • Provides a link between the ISF and their members.
  • Establishes policies that cover the actions of the NSO.
  • Manages marketing and sponsorship activities for the sport.
  • Puts forward bids to host major international competitions/tournaments; supports hosting opportunities.

Athletes should know that all decisions regarding athletes (team selection, Sport Canada funding) made by the NSO must be supported by policies that are public domain. Athletes can request these policies and should be familiar with the protocols.

NSO responsibilities can often be found by looking at:

  • The NSO’s constitution (often found on the NSO website).
  • The Athlete Agreement signed by both the NSO and the athlete.
  • The selection criteria provided by the NSO.

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