The organisation of schools’ athletics developed out of the post-First World War enthusiasm for simple relay race contests, to more varied track and field occasions attracting an ever increasing number of boys’ schools. By the end of the 1940’s the Ulster Grammar Schools’ Athletic Association was formed to organise an expanding schedule of events which, during the ensuing years, necessitated the holding of heats on the Wednesday preceding the Saturday finals at the beginning of June each year. Girls’ athletic competition had a rather later start but, by the Fifties and Sixties their Association was also established.
An upsurge of interest in schools’ cross-country running in the mid-sixties produced an atmosphere, which seemed to threaten a multiplication of organising bodies and resultant fragmentation of resources. At a meeting, in February 1967, of members of staff representing a wide selection of secondary type boys’ schools, the Ulster Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association was formed. Its first promotion was the Ulster Cross-Country Championships at Armagh. Following the Annual General Meeting in November 1967, the Ulster Boys’ Grammar Schools’ A.A. amalgamated with U.S.S.A.A. After further negotiation, the November 1970 A.G.M. brought the amalgamation of the Ulster Girls’ Schools’ A.A. with U.S.S.A.A. Thus exists the comprehensive and integrated Association, which we are today, with a schedule of administration and events spanning the school year.
The Irish Schools’ Athletic Association brings together the U.S.S.A.A and the Provincial Associations of the other three Provinces, to organise the Irish championships and other all-Ireland events. It is a member of the Schools’ International Athletics Board, which organises the Home Countries Schools’ International events.