The 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games are being held in Berlin between 17 th – 25 th June and are the largest inclusive sporting event in the world, featuring over 7,000 athletes from 190 nations.
Team Ireland consists of 73 athletes competing in 12 sports, supported by a team of over 60 volunteers representing all five Special Olympics Ireland regions – Connaught, Eastern, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster.
Today we spoke to one of team Ireland’s volunteers Louise Grant.
How did you start volunteering with the SOI?
Louise: I came back from Australia in 2002 wanting to volunteer somewhere and came
across an ad for Special Olympics. I contacted them and signed up to help out at an
athletics event. The following year I was a volunteer at the World Games in Dublin.
What motivated you to invest your time and energy in this and what is it that keeps you
motivated to keep going?
Louise: Those first events and subsequent World Games had me well and truly hooked.
Volunteering with SO never feels like work so it’s easy to prioritise it as just being part of my
life. I wouldn’t be the person I am without it. I’ve had the most incredible times and made
some fantastic memories with wonderful people. It’s my happy place.
How much do you train before the Games?
Louise: We do some online games specific training and then in person training, which allows
us to get to know the volunteers we’ll be travelling with. We all become friends and support
each other on our World Games journey.
Can you tell us more about your work with the Donabate-Portrane club and its
amazing the success?
Louise: I was asked to come on board by Deborah McArdle who set up the club and is our
Head Coach. I am currently club registrar, and also a coach to our Young Athletes. There was
a huge need for a club in the area and once the word got out, we had members come from
all over North Dublin. We have now branched into different sports including Basketball,
Gymnastics and Athletics.
What was the role of the sponsors and the community in the club’s growth?
Louise: We’ve had unbelievable support from the local community. From DP Educate
Together who let us use their hall and grounds to local clubs whose members help out with
fundraising all through the year. We are known and loved all through North County Dublin.