As part of their delivery of the DSD supported ‘Sport in the Community’ programme, the three largest sporting bodies have officially recognised young people involved in volunteering in their clubs. At a joint awards ceremony on Thursday evening in the Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast Ulster GAA, IFA and IRFU (Ulster Branch) put the spotlight on young sports volunteers. The celebration event officially recognised all those young people aged 14-24years who volunteer at their local sports club and who have completed 50 or 100 hours volunteering as part of the GoldMark Programme.
Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey MLA attended the event to congratulate all the young people involved, speaking at the event he said: “It is important that we recognise the contribution and achievements of volunteers. To see so many young people here tonight who have accumulated many hours of volunteering activity should be an inspiration to us all. I want to congratulate you all for your hours of commitment and dedication to volunteering in sport.”
Ulster GAA President Martin McAviney praised the young people saying, “Our sports clubs rely on volunteers and it’s great to see so many young people giving their time freely to help out. We hope the young people who participated in the GoldMark Programme will continue to be valuable volunteers for their clubs in the years to come.”
John Kinnear, IRFU Ulster Branch President highlighted that the skills gained through volunteering are transferable, he said, “This initiative has not only benefited the clubs but also has helped the personal and career development of the young people involved. We hope that the skills and knowledge attained by being part of the GoldMark Programme will help these young people in their own personal development.”
IFA President Jim Shaw said young people have an important place in sport, he said, “There are many opportunities for volunteering in sport and the GoldMark Programme has helped promote some of these opportunities to young people and to encourage them to get involved in their local sports club, it has also shown clubs the benefits of giving young people a meaningful role.”
Jane Gribben from Volunteer Now said it was important to encourage volunteering, she said, “The GoldMark Programme is a widely recognised volunteering programme run by Vounteer Now and is accredited by the Department of Education. The certificates for 50, 100 and 200 hours volunteering is something these young people should be very proud of and put on their applications for further education or career development.