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Wednesday 07 Sep 2016
Volunteering in spotlight at Belfast event

The Irish Football Association has joined forces with Ulster Rugby and Ulster GAA to stage a forum looking at how volunteers at sports clubs can be supported.

The event was staged as part of the Department for Communities-funded programme Sport: A Home For Lifelong Volunteering. The informative forum focused on ways in which sports clubs can recruit, involve, reward and retain volunteers.

It was entitled Strength In Numbers: Building Strong Teams Off The Field. At the event Communities Minister Paul Givan said: "I am delighted that my department supports this innovative project. Volunteers play a vital role in all sports and it is important that they receive the right support to develop their skills whether that be as a youth coach, a club administrator or helping to deliver sporting events.

"Having skilled volunteers also benefits our communities as the skills developed within sport are transferable and are often used to benefit the wider community.”

The Minister added: "Volunteers are a critical aspect of all our sports and it is great to see this type of programme recognising their importance to Ulster Rugby, the Irish FA and the GAA. I welcome the opportunity to be here to acknowledge and congratulate all the volunteers for their dedication and commitment to volunteering within sport."

Various aspects of volunteering were highlighted by experts across the three governing bodies, with examples from Randalstown RFC, Ballinamallard United FC and St Moninnas GAA Killeavy as to how they have grown strong and sustainable volunteer bases.

Speaking about the event, Irish FA Football Development Manager Keith Gibson said: “Club and volunteer development is recognised as a key area in our future development and is an objective within our youth strategy Let Them Play.

“This seminar was a fantastic way to bring together clubs and volunteers from all levels of the game and offer support to ensure the service provided both on and off the pitch continues to improve. The partnership nature of the seminar also provided clubs from each code the opportunity to share learning and examples of best practice from their respective sports.”

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Craig Gilroy spoke about the importance of volunteers throughout his sporting career and encouraged people of all ages to think about volunteering as a means of personal development, social inclusion and simply having fun in their local community.

For more information about volunteering with the Irish FA contact Diarmuid O’Carroll at

At the forum were (from left) Irish FA Football Development Manager Keith Gibson, Ulster GAA President Michael Hassan, Communities Minister Paul Givan, IRFU Ulster Branch President John McKibbin and rugby star Craig Gilroy of Ulster and Ireland.