“Because we believe Sport Matters – it matters for health and well-being; it matters because it helps young people perform better in school and it matters because it brings our communities together.” – James Galvin
26 May 2016. The sporting Mecca of Croke Park. No spectacular goals were being scored, no penalties were being saved, no questionable refereeing decision were being discussed. However one of the most significant sporting event of the Irish calendar was taking place within the Hogan Stand for all of the key organisations responsible for sport and physical activity in Ireland. The Federation of Irish Sport Annual Conference brought together NGBs and LSPs, along with leaders in government and business, to share ideas, learn from experts, meet industry exhibitors and engage in lively, sports-related debate. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Building Leadership Capabilities in Sport’, and interesting talks & discussions were held from key speakers including the newly elected Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland Pat Hickey, Dublin Senior Football Manager Jim Gavin, Director of the Irish Institute of Sport Gary Keegan, CEO of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane and Director of Human Resources at the Irish Defence Forces Training Camp Lt. Col. Mark Prendergast.
James Galvin, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, in his opening address echoed the CARA vision by stating that we all are here to “ensure that people lead healthy & active lifestyles through sport & physical activity”. However it was key note speaker John Steele who stole the show (Chairman of the English Institute of Sport, Executive Director of Sport at Loughborough University, Founder and Owner of Unforgiving Minute and). From his vast experience across different aspects of sport and leadership, he emphasised the importance of developing your staff – “your greatest single asset”. Adopting an honest and realistic reflective practice ethos within your organisation is fundamental to this; for this you must firstly define your current reality and then “change before you have to”. This concept of changing, growing, and ever adapting is applicable to all of us working within the sports sector, irrespective of the size or nature of your organisation.
However it was his thoughts on teamwork and collaboration that rung most true with me – “When you really all pull together, things can happen”. In Ireland there are many organisations doing outstanding work in the area of disability sport. We are at a juncture now where if all of the key players in this sector can pull together we can make an even bigger and lasting impact on the lives and health of people with disabilities. And that’s what we’re all here for right?!
“Treasure the misfits. Let them challenge conventional wisdom” – John Steele