Recognised for a lifetime of selfless dedication to sport and Community Games in particular, it was no surprise that Leitrim Sports Star Awards Hall of Fame winner Mary Keenan made an impassioned plea for more people to get involved with sporting and cultural organisations in a voluntary capacity.
Professing her delight at winning the Hall of Fame award for Exceptional Services to Sport, Mary said “It is a great honour, I was absolutely delighted, it is great to get recognised for all the work you do.
“I started off actually involved with gymnastics and went on to soccer as treasurer, chair with Carrick Town and then I went on with Community Games and I have been Treasurer, Chair, I am now Chair of Connacht.”
“It was great to have the family there to celebrate. Unfortunately, my daughter Annette isn’t here because her husband is celebrating a birthday and she had booked a weekend away months ago.”
But the subject of volunteerism is close to Mary’s heart and after making a call for volunteers while accepting her award on stage, Mary made a stronger, more impassioned plea for more people, and young parents in particular, to get involved with outside activities.
“It is very hard in Leitrim,” said Mary when asked about keeping an organisation like Community Games going, “We seem to have a problem in getting volunteers. You go to any other county, they seem to have no problem in getting volunteers but you go to Leitrim, we seem to have a big problem.
“Down through the years, the amount of people who have been involved, all these people have kept Community Games going in Leitrim but now that they are gone, it seems to be much harder to get younger parents involved.
“At the moment in Carrick Area alone, we had an AGM and six people turned up. At our County AGM, it was actually only the area secretaries who turned up. The only way we can keep it going is if you have volunteers and the fact that we are having the Connacht Finals next year, without volunteers we are not going to be able to cope.
“At this stage of my life, I should be gone out of Community Games and the more volunteers you have, the less work you have to do. With four or five, you just cannot do the work. Years ago, we used to have great support but now it just seems to have waned off.
“I suppose children are doing so much now that maybe parents have that much more to do but I still think for the sake of the children, to keep them involved, it doesn’t matter what it is, be it sport or the cultural side of it, it would be far better.
“There is so much more to Community Games than the sports side of it, you’ve got dancing, choir, variety, there is so much more to it.”