Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Celebration of Inspiring Young Sports Volunteers

March 20th, 2024

Over 300 people attended the MAC Theatre, Belfast, recently for the annual Sports Inspire Awards Ceremony, a prestigious event organised jointly by Ulster GAA, Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association which celebrates young people volunteering in sport.

BBC sport correspondent Thomas Niblock, compere for the evening, was joined on stage by a panel of stars from the three sporting codes: Derry and Slaughtneil footballer and hurler Brendan Rogers, Ulster rugby player John Cooney and Glentoran FC footballer Bobby Burns.

These high-profile guests gave an insight into how volunteers have helped them in their sporting careers and the importance of volunteering in sport, especially for young people.

Irish hockey legend Katie Mullan also participated in a conversation about the highs and lows of her career in sport, how volunteering impacts on players and teams, and its role in driving success both on and off the pitch.

Then it was the turn of the young people to take to the stage to receive their Sports Inspire Awards for completing 50, 100 or 200 hours volunteering in sport.

Ulster GAA President Ciaran McLaughlin commented:

“Every year this event showcases the huge impact young people are making in their clubs and communities through volunteering in sport. It is inspiring listening to the young volunteers about what they do and why they volunteer their time and skills to sport. These volunteers are showing the true impact they make every day, building better sports clubs and providing positive outlet for their communities to enjoy spectating and participation in sport. Well done to all the young people and clubs involved in this worthy programme.”

Irish FA CEO Patrick Nelson said:

“It is so uplifting to come here to this event which brings together young people from across the three sports to celebrate their volunteering contribution.  We call it the Sports Inspire Awards Programme because that is exactly what it is, inspiring young people doing good in their own communities.  I congratulate all the clubs involved, and for providing volunteering opportunities for young people aged 14-24 years.  Not only do the clubs benefit from the skills, energy and knowledge of the young volunteers, but the young people also benefit from developing their own skills and talents which will serve them well in further education or future career.”

Denis Gardiner, Ulster Rugby President said:

“The partnership between Ulster Rugby, the Irish FA and Ulster GAA is so important and through events like this we see the great work that is being done by the three Governing Bodies to promote volunteering in sport.  We are very grateful for the continued support of the Department for Communities and the Community Fund, which allows us to continue to develop volunteer programmes that are meaningful and impactful.  It is hugely inspiring to see The MAC full of young people who are stepping up and helping out in their local sports clubs, making them a better place to be.  I congratulate all the young people who have achieved their awards and I also thank the clubs involved in this programme for providing those vital opportunities.”

The Sports Inspire Awards Programme is run jointly by Ulster GAA, Irish FA and Ulster Rugby to recognise outstanding young volunteering in sport.  It is aimed at people aged 14-24 years old and encourages them to regularly volunteer in their sports club to achieve awards for 50, 100 and 200 hours volunteering.

The programme is organised as part of the partnership funded by DfC Sport ‘A Home for Lifelong Volunteering’, and is supported by the Community Foundation.

Anyone interested in getting involved in this programme should contact Sharon Haughey-Grimley at

Contacts for the other two sports:


Ulster Rugby:


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