Nicola Keeshan, KRSP Sports Co-ordinator, was delighted to be at the Federation of Irish Sport, Volunteers in Sport Awards, to see the award for Co. Kilkenny being presented to Carmel O’Neill of Paulstown Boxing Club. Carmel has been volunteering for well over 10 years and was presented with her award by the Minister for State with responsibility for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD.
The Volunteers in Sport Awards celebrate the contributions of the band of volunteers across the country who give their time to Irish sport and physical activity every year. The event sees volunteers from all 32 counties honoured for their amazing dedication to volunteering across a variety of different sports.
The winner of the award for Co. Kilkenny is Carmel O’Neill of Paulstown Boxing Club, who has been volunteering for well over 10 years. Carmel avoids the limelight but her work can be seen throughout all aspects of the club. Over the years, Carmel has been at the heart of everything that the club has done helping with coaching, organising and also as Club Secretary. Carmel is the first to congratulate young boxers on their achievements but also offers much needed encouragement when the decision doesn’t quite go their way. Whether it is supporting the senior boxers in finals or assisting with the newcomers Carmel treats all with the same respect. Her work outside of training hours has continued to help Paulstown Boxing Club to develop and the club has gone from strength to strength.
Throughout December and January members of the public, sports clubs and governing bodies were invited by the Federation of Irish Sport in partnership with the National Network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships to nominate an individual whose contribution to sport and physical activity in Ireland has made a real difference to their community, club or county. Following a shortlisting process by the Selection Committee, the judging panel consisting of 9 individuals drawn from sports administration, academia, the volunteer community and media, and included former Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster, Marie Crowe and Declan Jordan, Senior Lecturer in Economics at UCC.
Commenting on the awards, Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD said: “The volunteers being recognised today deserve enormous credit. Their work, often unseen and undertaken without any fuss or fanfare, makes sport a reality for hundreds if not thousands of people in their communities. In particular, the work of volunteers enables young people to play the sport that they love, to meet their friends and form lasting friendships. In so many ways, volunteers are the lifeblood of sport in this country, and I am privileged to have this opportunity to publicly acknowledge their vital contribution to Irish sport.”
Speaking about the importance of the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said: “In every county throughout the country, clubs and sporting organisations facilitate multi-generational opportunities for people to be involved in sport and physical activity. The work and goodwill of sport volunteers across the country cannot be taken for granted… Every week in Ireland more than 450,000 volunteers bring sport and physical activity to life for our communities and it’s time we afford their hard work the recognition it deserves. It is therefore important that we showcase the size and scale of this contribution by bringing such volunteers together today at the Volunteers in Sport Awards with attendees from every county in the country to shine a spotlight on the positive work they do for sport and physical activity.”
Head of Louth Sports Partnership, Graham Russell said: ”As the National Network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships, we are each individually committed to supporting volunteers in our local Clubs, sporting organisations and other non-sporting groups that assist in making opportunities available within their own communities for people to enjoy all forms of physical activity. We are privileged to see, first hand, the amazing work these people do, and we are all delighted to see these local volunteers getting recognition at National level.”