Young sports volunteers took centre stage last night at a joint awards ceremony recognising their outstanding contributions to their sport clubs.
As part of a joint project by Ulster GAA, the Irish FA and Ulster Rugby, young people have the opportunity to participate in Volunteer Now’s GoldMark Programme. The initiative encourages young people aged 14-24 years to volunteer in their chosen sport. There are three sets of awards for volunteering 50 hours, 100 hours and 200 hours. The 200 hour award is an award of excellence and is signed off by the Minister of Education.
Over 100 young people were awarded at last night’s ceremony in the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast.
Speaking after the event, Ulster GAA President Michael Hasson said, “Young people make a major contribution to their clubs through their volunteering efforts. The energy and enthusiasm they bring to their roles is infectious and our clubs are all the better for having young people playing a full part. I am delighted with the increasing numbers taking part in the Volunteering now scheme.”
IFA Second Deputy President Crawford Wilson said that “Volunteers are the heart and soul of football and without their dedication and commitment the sport would simply not be able to function to meet the needs of the thousands of young and old participants throughout Northern Ireland.”
Ulster Rugby President, John McKibbin, said that he believes that “volunteers are essential to the running and development of sport and that young volunteers particularly have a valued and important role to play. People are never too old or too young to be a volunteer and their contributions benefit both the game and themselves.”
The award ceremony was hosted by BBC’s Thomas Niblock and guest speakers for the evening included Slaughtneil Camogie Captain and All Ireland Champion Aoife Ní Chaiside, Ireland International, Ulster and Cooke Women’s Player Ilse Van Staden, Northern Ireland Women’s International Captain & IFA Ambassador Marissa Callaghan. Young volunteer Matthew Cameron gave a heartfelt overview of his experiences volunteering with his local club Killeavy GAA.
This initiative is part of joint project ‘Sport: A Home for Lifelong Volunteering’ funded by the Department of Communities.