Gala Gifts for Clubs supporting Special Olympics Ireland

Team South Galway Special Olympics Club win Gala cash prize

16 Feb 2021
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We are delighted to announce that Team South Galway Special Olympics Club are February’s winner of the Gala Gifts for Clubs compeition and have won themselves €400 in cash.

 

When their sports activities were brought to a halt last March, the club switched its means of connecting with athletes, using online channels such as their Facebook page and provided updates and prompts via WhatsApp. Using Zoom, the club held online quizzes, joke sessions, practiced their public speaking skills and joined the coffee and chat sessions facilitated by the Special Olympics Connaught office.

The team also established an active athletes’ committee, which set some off-line challenges such as engaging in a virtual walk from Galway to Dublin and back! They enjoyed the walking challenge so much that they are now taking part in a five-week step challenge based on the Special Olympics Health and Wellbeing programme.

“While dearly missing the pool and bocce court, Team South Galway athletes have shown incredible resilience, displayed amazing hidden talents and enhanced their friendships over the past year. They have truly become a TEAM”
Kevin Dowling, Swimming Coach.

“I miss seeing my friends and training to get fit for competition. The activities we have through online zoom calls and virtual challenges set for us have kept us busy. We are a closer group of friends now and I feel more connected with all members of the club.”
 Aoife O'Donoghue, athlete

The club have a number of projects where the prize money will be well spent. Some dated equipment will need modernisation and they are also hoping to invest in club kit to cement their sense of being a team that supports each other.

Overall, the club has reported that athletes have felt connected to the club and the club is committed to maintaining that connection whilst we await a safe return to normal club activities.

We also asked the team at South Galway what advice they would have for other clubs about to make their move online.

“Moving your club to online activities may seem daunting but can be initiated through starting small with something simple such as a smartphone photography competition using WhatsApp. This could be followed by the awards night run through zoom. Our athletes love the challenges and the virtual interaction.”

What are Team South Galway looking forward to in 2021?

The club will take advice from Special Olympics Ireland regarding safe return to Bocce and pool activities but will continue to explore all avenues to keep our athletes engaged. In any event, the club will turn to outside opportunities to stay fit, safely and within guidelines. This may involve walking or open water swimming during the summer months if prevailing Government guidelines permit.

A huge thank you to all the clubs who entered the Gala Gifts for Club competition. If you didn’t win this time around your entry will go forward to next month’s draw so there’s no need to enter again. If you haven’t entered yet, fill in this short form and tell us what your club is doing virtually to engage with your athletes or volunteers.