Back in its regular autumn berth after the travails of recent years, Sport for Business Sport for Social Good 2023 returned yesterday with a great line-up of speakers and a room filled with members looking to be inspired.

The general reaction afterwards was that this is exactly what we delivered.

Allianz have been our Partners in this highlighting of initiatives where sport and business have come together as a positive force for good since 2016 and Partnership manager Anna McCarthy was on stage yesterday to talk us through the importance of purpose as part of the brand marketing effort, as well as the measurement of trust that ‘doing the right thing’ delivers.

We spoke of longevity and 30+ years of partnership with the GAA, 20 years with Cumman na mBunscoil and 13 years and rising with Paralympics Ireland.

The use of sporting sponsorship ambassadors like Ellen Keane has been at the heart of the mass media campaigns that Allianz has run and sporting stars were also integral to the Stand Strong activation which was the latest rendition of the partnership with Women’s Aid.

We played the ‘World’s Strongest Women’ advert that was a powerful kick off to that campaign, and which was likewise on the big screen that was the stage backdrop in the Irish Film Institute.

We were also able to utilise the power of video in the first two segments of the conference highlighting the emotion and the success of first the Energia Rugby for All initiative with Sponsorship Manager of Energia and PwC 30 under 30 Alumni Lorna Danaher and then the great story that is the Sanctuary Runners with Founder Graham Clifford.

Danaher explained the genesis of the programme coming from a request by Leo Cullen to meet his wife, Neurodiversity advocate Dairine Cullen.

“Wanting to make a positive difference but needing to make sure we got it right, led us to dive deep into research and speak with great people like David Hicks in De La Salle Palmerstown who were already providing rugby opportunities for those with different and diverse challenges.”

“Hosting our first blitz last month is only the next step in a five year campaign working with Leinster Rugby and the clubs as well as the wider rugby community.”

That was evident in the lobby after the event when conversations were sparking with the IRFU team that was there.

Graham Clifford was out for a run in Waterford one day when the recent trip he had made to Africa as a journalist prompted him to begin thinking of ways in which those who have been through hell could find a way to a better place even if only for a short while through the power of running.

The idea and the name were already sorted by the time he got back home and within 48 hours he was sitting in the offices of Cork City Council trying to out in place the opportunity to bring the idea to life.

An irish Sport Industry award for Inclusion, and expansion to towns and cities across Ireland and overseas has proven that it was a winner and almost 1,000 runners wearing the familiar blue t-shirt wer at the Sport Ireland Campus last week.

Sanctuary swimmers was an extension against the backdrop of the pain felt by those seeking protection and taking to the waters of the world. “It could have been Sanctuary Tiddlywinks, the important thing was the coming together rather than the activity and seeing the joy in people’s faces when they realise they can be a part of their own new community has been fantastic,” said Clifford.

We had special guest Peter Ryan talk to us about #PetersRun getting underway this Sunday when he will run 586 kilometres from malin Head to Mizen Head for the National Council for the Blind. He is an inspiring man who began to lose his sight while a promising hurler in Tipperary, bounced back to recover sport cycling for Ireland at the Rio Paralympics and has now embarked on this adventure where he will run a minimum of 108 kilometres a day and a maximum of 132 before finishing on World Sight Day next Thursday 12th October. We will be following his progress through Sport for Business over the next week.

Our second knowledge burst was from Rob Crabbe of KPMG who told us about the Books for Birdies initiative that saw 20 schools each gifted a library of 100 books from the efforts of Leona Maguire and other golfers at the KPMG Women’s Irish Open at dromoland Castle last month.

Youth was also the theme of the session with Roisin Jones of the Olympic federation of ireland and Olympic medallist rower Aifric Keogh who talked us through the Dare to Believe programme that is reaching 50,000 students each year with visits from Olympians to share their stories and inspire those who might one day follow their path.

The laughter in the picture above was from the comparison we drew to the programme booking that crashed the website and saw every place filled for the current term in five minutes, just like Taylor Swift.

Aifric Keogh is as good a speaker on dry land as she is a competitor on the water and this was a first Olympic Medal that we can recall making a guest appearance at a Sport for Business event.

The morning wrapped up with an important message on climate and the environment from Jan Czaplicki, the founder of Carbon Click who joined us to talk about the ability of sporting bodies to lead the way in encouraging fans and themselves to offset the carbon required to compete and watch sport around the world.

“Only 20 percent of emissions at big events are from the event organisers, most of the rest comes from fans flying to the event – so finding a way to help fans help the planet is important.”

They are doing that with a number of sporting organisations and are open to working with others to help tell a great story and make a real difference.

He had run the numbers on what it would have cost the FAI to offset the carbon footprint of flying the Republic of Ireland Women’s squad and support staff business class to Australia for the Women’s World Cup. €8,224.86 which is a small price to pay for what could in future be a part of any Irish team’s journey. The money also goes towards an irish community project planting Native irish trees.

If that was impressive, the cost of offsetting flying the Irish Men’s rugby Team to France, over less distance and smaller aircraft would come to only €205.38.

The day was all about making a difference and wouldn’t that be a great legacy to make that the norm for Irish sporting teams travelling overseas.

Who knows what else might emerge from the connections made and the conversations started.

We will publish a digital report on this year’s event and projects over the next two weeks and have already begun thinking about the 2024 edition of this very special event.

Thanks to all our great speakers, to Allianz for their unstinting support of what we do, to all those who attended and to Eoin from Octane Media for the first wave of shots above, with more to follow next week.