It has been said that “It takes a village to raise a child”, it is hard to trace the origins of this quote but it is safe to say that in our sport “it takes an army of volunteers to raise a champion”. Volunteers in our sport are so important in running clubs, in coaching, in organising and running events and in keeping our athletes safe. All aspects of our sport have flourished over the years due to the commitment from our volunteers.

If we look at the careers of our Olympic medalist, or our multiple World Champions, you will get an idea of how many volunteers have had an impact on their rowing lifespan.

From the time they started rowing they would have been a member of a club that had many volunteers coaching and running the club. Giving lifts, fundraising for equipment, coaching, safety launch driving, cleaning, repairing, each year clubs would call on 40 to 50 volunteers giving hundreds of volunteer hours. Then those same athletes start to compete at local and domestic regattas, these regattas involve hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours to ensure these events are run in a safe, fair and competitive manner. Food, commentators, race committee, umpires, stakeboat holders, time keepers, parking attendants, slip marshals, launch drivers, all giving of their time for the safe enjoyment of the participants and helping to prepare our world best athletes for future victory. When you then take into consideration the preparation and organising of junior representative teams and competitions and then senior competitions, even world and Olympic championships, you are moving into millions of volunteer hours to create an Olympic and World champion.

The Irish Rowing Championships will be held in the NRC this July and it will involve well over a hundred volunteers over the two weekends and the many thousands of volunteer hours put into organising and delivering a world class event. Our sport and our rowing champions could not and would not reach the amazing success it has without you, our volunteers.

As an organisation we have many functioning committees, Offshore, Coastal, Safety Advisory, Domestic events, Umpires, Championships, Universities and many others with a large number of volunteers giving freely of their time and expertise to ensure the smooth and consistent running of our sport. Indeed, the Board of Rowing Ireland is made up of volunteers operating at a strategic level to guarantee we have a future vision for the sport of rowing.

Rowing Ireland acknowledges the tremendous effort and the wonderful support our volunteers give to our sport. Rowing Ireland works behind the scenes to ensure our volunteers are protected and are given the opportunity to participate, enjoy and excel in the sport of rowing. Rowing Ireland’s extensive coach education program, safety webinars, events support, women on the water programs, child safeguarding policies and vetting, get going get rowing programs are all there to support our volunteers. 

Rowing Ireland thanks our many volunteers whom without them, we could not achieve the level of success domestically and internationally that we have. Rowing currently receives a tremendous amount of funding from Sport Ireland because of our continued success on the world and Olympic stage, we would not have obtained these successes without you our proud and appreciated legion of volunteers.

So, the next time you see our world class rowers such as Sanita, Paul and Fintan among many others receiving their medals and the symbolic handshake remember, that handshake is also for you, as a volunteer you played an important part in the development of that athlete and contributed hugely to the success of our athletes and our proud organisation.

It takes thousands of volunteers to create a single Olympic or World Champion.

Thank you for being involved.