Capital job for our ambassadors of sport
IT WAS meant to be a European celebration of Irish sport, but local heroes stole the show.
The launch took place yesterday of Dublin as the 2010 European Capital of Sport, as European politicians, and an Irish boxing idol, heralded a new chapter in sport in the city.
But 10 volunteers in clubs across Dublin became the real stars of the event when they were announced as ambassadors of sport for the year.
Boxer Bernard Dunne was on hand to celebrate their achievement at the ceremony, which was held in Dublin Castle.
"Sport is not just about people on the track, on a pitch or in a ring, like myself," he said. "It's about the guys (the ambassadors) you've just seen get up on the stage. They're the life and soul of all sport.
"It's these guys who get up in the morning to train kids, who aren't their own kids, to clean clothes, to give people excitement, to give people goals.
"It is a privilege for me to be here today when they are being recognised for their talents," he added.
Among the volunteers to be honoured was Brian Connolly of the Oddsox softball club, who was nominated by fellow club members for "giving assistance with transport equipment".
Fionbarr Farrell was also recognised for teaching fencing to schoolchildren and organising competitions, while James Igwilo of the Insaka-Ireland football club was mentioned for his work in encouraging integration between new communities.
Addressing the launch, Dublin Lord Mayor Emer Costello said that the city was chosen as the European capital of sport because of the active nature of the people and their huge interest in games.
"It will be a very exciting year, a very challenging year, but one where Dublin will step up to the mark," she added.
European Commission director of sport Pierre Mairesse also showed his appreciation to the Irish people for voting 'Yes' to the Lisbon Treaty, saying that it gave the EU the chance to promote sport in member states for the first time.