The Federation of Irish Sport has today announced the winners of the 2023 Volunteers in Sport Awards proudly supported by the National Network of 29 Local Sports Partnerships.
The Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Council award for 2022 has been awarded to Clara Clark of 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.
Minister of State with responsibility for Sport and Physical Education Thomas Byrne TD is the special guest speaker at the awards, which will take place next week on March 22nd at The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown and hosted by sports broadcaster Gráinne McElwain.
The event will see volunteers from all 32 counties honoured for their amazing dedication to volunteering across a variety of different sports. Guests will also include key stakeholders from the sector. The overall Outstanding Achievement Award will be revealed on the day.
The recipient of the award for Dublin Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co. Council area is Clara Clark of Cycling Without Age, who is the founder of the initiative.
Clara has spent countless hours promoting and developing the organisation so that it can provide senior citizens and those with disabilities the opportunity to experience the joy and freedom of cycling. Clara has helped to train volunteers, take people out on the trishaws and advocate for all to be able to access cycling.
Clara is a true asset to the community and has been able to expand the initiative with the help of DLR Sports Partnership, the County Council and the Bike Hub.
It has been Clara’s dream from the outset to bring the same opportunities to people all across the country and thanks to her commitment and perseverance this dream is becoming a reality.
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.
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.
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.
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.