Young sports volunteers took centre stage at the recent GoldMark Awards Ceremony in the Crowne Plaza Belfast.
The event, which was jointly organised by Ulster GAA, the Irish FA Foundation and Ulster Rugby, highlighted the huge volunteering effort across the three sports among young people aged 14-24.
The young people heard first hand from three sports stars about their experiences of volunteering and the impact volunteers made on their sporting careers - Niall Grimley (Armagh GAA and Ireland International Rules), Pat McGibbon (former Manchester United, Wigan Athletic and Northern Ireland player), and Stuart McCloskey (current Ulster & Irish Rugby Player).
The packed audience also heard from 22-year-old Emily Millar from Malone Rugby Club who gave a powerful overview of her experience volunteering in sport after her playing career was cruelly cut short through a serious injury.
More than 100 young people were presented with a GoldMark Millennium Volunteers Award for 50, 100 and 200 hours of volunteering. BBC sports commentator Thomas Niblock hosted proceedings.
Acknowledging the role of clubs in promoting youth volunteering, Ulster GAA President Oliver Galligan said: “Hundreds of sports clubs right across Ulster have signed up for the GoldMark Programme to promote volunteering to their young members and also to officially recognise the contribution that young volunteers make to sport and their communities.
“Helping to develop the skills and talents of our young people is important work and I would encourage any club not registered for this programme to get in touch with their governing body.”
Congratulating the young volunteers, Ulster Rugby President Stephen Elliott said: “The GoldMark Programme requires young people to commit their time and talent to their local sports club. More than 100 young volunteers have been recognised tonight for contributing 50 hours, 100 hours and 200 hours to their sports clubs – that is an incredible achievement and I congratulate each of them.”
Irish FA Foundation President Jim Shaw said: “Through Department for Communities funding the Irish FA Foundation, Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA are able to work together to increase participation in volunteering – promoting and recognising our volunteers and also developing their skills and knowledge.
“We also appreciate the ongoing support of Volunteer Now, supported by the Education Authority, in this work. Through this programme the spotlight shines on the positive contribution of young people to clubs and their wider communities.”
Jane Gribbin, Community Engagement Manager with Volunteer Now noted: “Volunteers are the lifeline of local sport and the quality opportunities developed for young people ensures that these 3 sports remain rooted in their local communities.
“It also means volunteers have the opportunity to make a local difference, gain essential skills and have a positive experience. It’s fantastic to see the recognition growing over the years and we commend the support provided by the governing bodies of each sport.”
Any club interested in getting involved in the GoldMark Programme or any young GAA volunteer looking more details contact Sharon Haughey-Grimley on 02837517180 or email [email protected]Tweet