Frank McGhee to be honoured at volunteers awards

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Donegal’s Frank McGhee will receive nationwide recognition for his years of dedicated volunteer work with CLG Ard an Ratha at next week’s virtual Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards ceremony, proudly supported by EBS.

Frank McGhee’s involvement with CLG Ard an Ratha began in 1958 when he played with his Primary School Meenavalley in the Ardara Schoolboys League. Little did he realise then that he would go on and play for the club for a further 43 years. Frank’s contribution to the club was not limited to playing, as he managed underage teams in the ‘70s and ‘80s before holding the Senior Team Manager’s position from 1987 to 1990. He has since trained the senior and reserve teams with his enthusiasm for the game never waning. In addition to his coaching, Frank also spent time refereeing at underage level, often acting as linesman and umpire for the club at both home and away games. Furthermore, Frank prepares the grounds for all matches, getting flags ready, car park stewarding, opening of dressing rooms, and anything in relation to repairs and maintenance he always has the tool box in the boot of his car.

The Volunteers in Sport Awards celebrate the contributions of the band of volunteers across the country who give their time to Irish sport and physical activity every year. This equates to approximately 37.3 million hours of volunteering across Ireland’s 13,000 registered sports clubs and associations and, according to Sport Ireland’s 2021 ‘Researching the Value of Sport in Ireland’ report, is worth an estimated €1.5bn to the exchequer.

Throughout September and October members of the public, sports clubs and governing bodies were invited to nominate an individual whose contribution to sport and physical activity in Ireland has made a real difference to their community, club or county. The nominations and award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 12 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, and included former Director General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster, Marie Crowe and CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna.

In addition to the 32 county-level award winners, Amina Moustafa, a volunteer across many different sports including football, basketball and swimming, received the overall Outstanding Achievement Award for her incredible service to the promotion of sport amongst women of diverse ethnic backgrounds, as well as her continued support of Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI).

Máire Allen and Jacqueline McCormack have also received a Special Recognition Award for their amazing work with Roscommon Special Olympics Club. They have dedicated their time tirelessly over the last number of years and more recently, in the face of the challenging circumstances caused by Covid-19, did everything to ensure the club’s members remained fit and active throughout the various lockdowns.

Pádraic Kearney (RIP) has been honoured with a Special Recognition Award for his commitment to Gaelic Games in Adare GAA Club (Limerick). Pádraic was incredibly committed to his community, with his volunteerism going far beyond sport. His untimely passing earlier this year has been felt by everyone in the club, especially the younger members, who Pádraic coached for many years.

Commenting on the awards, Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht, Jack Chambers, TD, said: “It is an honour for me to support this year’s Volunteers in Sport Awards and help recognise so many fantastic volunteers in our community. These awards have a special place in the sporting calendar as they recognise those who have given an incredible amount of time throughout the year who have ensured that sport can takes place in our communities, and they do so without the expectation of gratitude or reward. The amount of hard work and dedication that these volunteers give to sport in Ireland is quite truly astonishing and I am privileged to support both the volunteers and these awards. I would also like to thank the Federation of Irish Sport and EBS, and all who will help make these virtual ceremonies a memorable occasion for all.”

Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said: “Despite another very challenging year for sport, we have once again seen how important volunteering has been to communities across Ireland. We have an enormous amount of gratitude for the army of volunteers who have ensured that sport could take place in a safe and controlled manner. Whether it be on pitches, courts, tracks, pools or even community halls across the country, the volunteers are always there to make sure sport and physical activity continues to take place around Ireland. It gives me immense pride to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at next week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport Awards and I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients. I would like to also thank EBS for their continued support in bringing wider recognition of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life. I would also like to express my gratitude to Minister Jack Chambers who will be taking the time out of his schedule to attend our virtual ceremonies next week and helping us to champion and celebrate the recipients.”

Managing Director of EBS, Paul Butler, commented: “EBS is delighted to partner with the Federation of Irish Sport once more to honour and recognise the everyday heroes around Ireland who make sure sport happens every day. EBS has been involved in local communities around Ireland for over 80 years and we are delighted to showcase the tremendous work these volunteers do for sport throughout their communities. These volunteers truly are the backbone of Irish sport, and we are proud to support them. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the recipients of the 2021 Volunteers in Sports Awards and thank them for all of the tireless work they do to ensure sport in Ireland continues to flourish.”

The awards will be streamed live each evening from 7pm on the Federation of Irish Sport’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/federationofirishsport/ with the awards schedule listed below:

Tuesday, December 7th: Leinster and Special Recognition Award
Wednesday, December 8th: Munster, Connacht and Special Recognition Award
Thursday, December 9th: Ulster and Outstanding Achievement Award

For more information on the awards, visit http://www.volunteersinsport.ie/

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