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Department for Communities

Through this project each of the governing bodies of sport are funded two full-time staff posts, namely; a Club & Community Development Officer, and a Volunteer Development & Policy Officer. These posts are tasked with supporting clubs and volunteers to further develop their respective selves, and are on hand to assist with specific club issues.

In addition to club and volunteer development, an important aspect of the DfC project is the close working relationship developed between the three sports. This culminates in much learning from one another, identifying best practice and implementing similar support in the sports where it is not already present. Over the course of a year the three sports will host a series of joint events which club volunteers are invited to attend. These joint events showcase some of the great work ongoing within the three sports, enabling the Irish FA to learn from the other sports, and vice versa.

 See some of the 2019/20 highlights below:

Goldmark Awards 2020

The event, which was jointly organised by Ulster GAA, the Irish FA Foundation and Ulster Rugby, highlighted the huge volunteering effort across the three sports among young people aged 14-24. 

The young people heard first-hand from three sports stars about their experiences of volunteering and the impact volunteers made on their sporting careers – David Jeffrey (Ballymena United manager), Connor McCann (Antrim GAA Hurling captain) and Alan O’Connor (current Ulster Rugby and Ireland player).

The packed audience at the Crowne Plaza Hotel also heard from Caelan McEvoy of Kilcoo GAA who gave a powerful overview of his experience volunteering in sport after his playing career was cruelly cut short due to a severe illness.More than 100 young people were presented with a GoldMark Millennium Volunteers Award for 50, 100 and 200 hours of volunteering.

Irish FA vice-president Crawford Wilson pointed out: “Through Department for Communities funding the Irish FA Foundation, Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA are able to work together to increase participation in volunteering – promoting and recognising our volunteers and also developing their skills and knowledge. 

“We also appreciate the ongoing support of Volunteer Now, supported by the Education Authority, in this work. Through this programme the spotlight shines on the positive contribution of young people to clubs and their wider communities.”

Jamie Greer of Volunteer Now added: “Sport provides some of the best quality volunteering opportunities for young people allowing them to give back within their own communities, develop essential skills and have a positive experience all at the same time. Volunteers inspire each new generation to get involved and keep that sport alive. It’s fantastic to see the recognition growing over the years and we commend the support provided by each of the governing bodies.”

Schools Roadshow

The Irish FA, Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA delivered a schools roadshow at St Louise’s Comprehensive College under the Department for Communities programme, Sport –  A Home for Lifelong Volunteering.

This was the final schools' roadshow of the year. The IFA, Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby had previously delivered the same workshop to pupils at St Pius X College Magherafelt and Royal School, Armagh.

Over 100 pupils aged between 14-17 benefited from the sessions - all of which were greatly received by the respective schools.

The theme of the roadshows was based around young people’s safety, wellbeing and on tackling addiction. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service opened with a strong message around safety on the road and the implications of reckless driving.

Oisin McConville, former Armagh GAA footballer, reflected on his addiction to gambling and spoke of the signs that young people should be aware of.

The PSNI concluded the roadshow with an informative presentation highlighting the hard-hitting One Punch Can Kill workshop with case studies on victims and on the impact it has on their families and communities.

Joanna McConway, Department of Communities said, “I am pleased to see that this programme is tackling some of the difficult issues in society.  Volunteering is an example of good citizenship and hearing first hand of real life experiences is invaluable learning for young people as they embark on the journey to adulthood.”  

Personal Story Reflection by volunteers

Sarah Herron's Story

Click to read

Michael Carvill

Volunteer Development & Policy Officer

Gavin Nelson

Club & Community Development Officer