OFFALY is to host the national congress of the HSE Community Games this weekend - bringing a boost of at least €100,000 to the area.
Volunteers from all over Ireland will descend on Tullamore from Friday to discuss the future of the organisation which offers a wide range of sporting and cultural activities to children.
A series of workshops, elections and debates will culminate with a banquet in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Saturday night when Minister for Sport Michael Ring will be among the guests.
The event is of particular interest as its takes the format of a congress rather than an AGM for the first time in Community Games’ 42 year history.
It also marks the start of a year where the organisation is embarking on a progressive new programme of events that includes new activities like debating, spikeball and duathlon.
Motions to be debated include the introduction of seeded draws and photo-finish technology for athletics.
Communnity Games has recently adopted a new strategic plan to re-emphasise its aim of promoting participation over competition. In his address Community Games President Gerry Davenport will tell delegates: “Change is necessary if we are to maintain our position as a leading light in the promotion of sporting and cultural opportunities for young people.” He added: “I wish to express my since thanks to our hosts Offaly and thank the Local Organising Committee for their hard work in ensuring that this weekend is a success.”
Guests who will attend over the weekend will include Liam Harbison, CEO of Paralympics Ireland, RTE Soccer reporter Tony O’Donohoe and chairman of Offaly County Council Peter Ormound.
Spouses and friends who travel to Offaly with delegates from the 31 other counties will be offered a free tour on Saturday that will take them to see the county’s historical sites.
Journalists from all over the country will also be in town as the organisation will host its annual Media Awards during Saturday night’s banquet.
Offaly’s hosting of the congress is timed to coincide with celebrations marking the county’s 40th year of involvement in the organisation. There are currently 15 areas within Offaly actively taking part in the Games which now host their national finals twice a year in Athlone.
Ferbane man Jude Feehan who is the incumbent General Secretary of the national body said: “It is great for Offaly to be able to host the congress and show off what we have to offer to volunteers from all over Ireland.
“There will be a lot of hard work done to ensure the future success of the organisation and that the best opportunities possible are on offer for our 200,000 participants and 10,000 volunteers who mostly take part in their local parishes.”
He added: “But you can be sure that the delegates that come here for the weekend will also enjoy themselves, visit the shops, restaurants and pubs and bring a lively atmosphere to Tullamore.”