Volunteers from a host of sports from across the 32 counties of Ireland will be honoured this week at the virtual 2020 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards.

The Volunteers in Sport Awards, supported by EBS Mortgage Masters, were created to champion the contribution, commitment and dedication of the army of 450,000 volunteers across the country who go above and beyond by giving their time to Irish sport and physical activity each year.

These volunteers dedicate some 37.2 million hours of volunteering across the country’s 13,000+ sports clubs and associations every year.

Towards the end of 2020, members of the public, as well as sports clubs and governing bodies were invited to nominate an individual whose contributions to sport has made a real difference to their community, club or county. The nominations and award recipients were selected by a judging panel consisting of 11 individuals drawn from sports administration, the volunteer community and media, including former Director-General of the GAA, Paraic Duffy, RTÉ broadcaster, Marie Crowe and CEO of CARA, Niamh Daffy.

In addition to the 32 county-level award winners, basketball stalwart, Anne McHale, of Ballina Braves Boys BC in Mayo, received the overall Outstanding Achievement Award for the many years of tireless service she has given to the sport and the club in Co. Mayo.

Olympian Pat Hooper (RIP) was also honoured with a Special Recognition award for his dedication to the sport of athletics. He was a decorated athlete before becoming a dedicated and exceptional coach. His untimely passing in 2020 was felt by the entire athletics community.

Daingean GAA (Offaly) has also received a Special Recognition award for their commitment to their community during Covid-19. The group went above and beyond to assist their community and came together to support the most vulnerable members through these challenging times.

“Sport plays a central role in the social fabric of every community in Ireland, yet it would not happen at all without the army of volunteers who dedicate their time and expertise across pitches, courts, tracks, pools and community halls across the country,” said Federation of Irish Sport CEO Mary O’Connor.

“This year, more than ever before, we have seen just how essential the role of the volunteer is in our local communities and to this end, it will be an honour to be able to recognise so many of these volunteers at this week’s virtual Volunteers in Sport awards. I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all of this year’s recipients, and also thank EBS for their amazing support in bringing the awards – and wider recognition – of volunteers in sport in Ireland to life. Thanks also to Minister Jack Chambers who will be taking the time out of his schedule to attend our virtual ceremonies this week and helping us to champion and celebrate the recipients.”

“It is a real honour for me to help recognise so many fantastic volunteers in our community at this year’s virtual Volunteers in Sport Awards,” added Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.

“I have always admired the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the scenes in sport and physical activity throughout the country, and it is a privilege for me be involved this week to help celebrate so many incredible individuals who give their time and dedication to ensuring that sport in Ireland runs smoothly 365 days of the year. Volunteers are often overlooked, but they are truly the backbone of sport in Ireland and these awards are a superb way to recognise and honour their amazing contribution to their communities. My thanks to the Federation of Irish Sport and EBS and everyone who will no doubt make these virtual ceremonies a memorable occasion for all.”

“EBS is thrilled to partner with the Federation of Irish Sport once more this year to honour and champion so many of our everyday heroes around Ireland who are truly the backbone of Irish sport,” said EBS CEO Paul Butler.

“EBS has been involved in communities in Ireland for over 80 years and we know that our biggest asset is the people who work with our customers throughout local communities in Ireland. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the recipients of the 2020 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 7 pm on the Federation of Irish Sport’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/federationofirishsport/

 

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