“Saying Thank You to Ireland’s Team of Sporting Volunteers”

London 2012 bound Sycerika McMahon paid tribute to the volunteers who played a vital role in her sporting career, when she helped launch the 2012 Volunteers in Irish Sport Awards today.

McMahon was joined at today’s launch at the Aviva Stadium by Dublin under-21 footballer Philip Ryan and fitness trainer to the Dublin Hurling Panel, Martin Kennedy.

McMahon said “It is impossible to get to the Olympics irrespective of the sport without a huge number of people making sacrifices to get you to that point. This includes friends, family, coaches but also the people at my club and school who invested me at the beginning when I was just another child learning to swim.”

Martin Kennedy, left, fitness trainer to the Dublin Hurling panel, swimmer Sycerika McMahon and Dublin Under-21 footballer Philip Ryan, in attendance at the launch of the 2012 Volunteers in Irish Sport Awards. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan

Kennedy meanwhile explained his role with the Dublin Hurling Panel, “Dublin Hurling is a perfect example of the huge positive impact volunteerism is having on Irish Sport. The current group of Dublin Senior hurlers, whom I am lucky enough to be involved with as a professional coach, have arrived at this elite stage of their sporting careers as a result of the hours of passion, dedication and effort that volunteers afforded them as they developed as players and athletes in their local schools and GAA clubs. The work of the volunteer is really the foundation of Irish Sport and formal recognition and appreciation for their efforts is well deserved.”

This is the fourth edition of the Volunteers in Irish Sport Awards, which is an initiative of the Federation of Irish Sport in conjunction with the Irish Sports Council, the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and The Community Foundation of Ireland. The first awards were presented in 2007 and are designed to recognise the contribution of the 450,000 Irish adults who volunteer in sport every year. Sport remains the single biggest driver of voluntary activity in Ireland

Members of the public are invited to nominate an individual whose contribution to their sport has made a real difference and to provide details on the person nominated.  Ten winners will be selected to receive an award from the nominations received. An Overall or Lifetime award to honour a volunteer, who has consistently given of their time for a sport, a team, or an event over many years, will also be awarded. Full details of the scheme and how to enter can be found on line at www.volunteersinsport.ie. The website includes a nomination form and guidelines for the 2012 awards. Nominations can be made by clubs, individuals or sporting bodies.

Previous winners include John O’Shea father to Euro 2012 bound John O’Shea, Brian Craig of Sailing who is largely responsible for attracting the Youth World Sailing Championships which will see 300 sailors from 70 countries descend on Dun Laoghaire in July, Dublin City Marathon organiser Jim Aughney and coach to Olympic Silver Medallist Kenny Egan, Gerry Fleming who has been coaching at Neilstown Boxing Club for more than 20 years.

The deadline for nominations for the 2012 Volunteers in Irish Sport Awards is 3rd August 2012.