Video: How the blind golfers of Ireland play the game

Clubs specialising in blind golf, wheelchair basketball and assisted judo are among nominations for the Irish Times Best Sports Club in Ireland contest

The Irish Times is running a competition to find Ireland’s Best Sports Club. Among the nominees is the Irish Blind Golf Sociey Founded in 1997 it organises golf training and competitions for the visually impaired. www.irishtimes.com/bestsports

 

Clubs specialising in blind golf, power-chair soccer, wheelchair basketball and assisted judo are among the nominations for the Irish Times Best Sports Club in Ireland competition.

In its hunt for the Best Sports Club in Ireland, The Irish Times invited members of the public to write a short pitch for a club they know and love. To date, there have been more than 1,250 nominations from across Ireland. Nominations close at midnight on Sunday May 15th.

Several of the clubs cater specifically for athletes with disabilities. The video accompanying this article shows members of the Irish Blind Golf Society playing and explaining their game to Bryan O’Brien. The society, 25 this year, caters for blind and visually impaired golfers, providing tuition and competitions for its 15 members.

Eamonn Maguire, captain of the society, is the author of several books for Gill and Macmillan, and a former Mayo and Meath senior footballer. “I suffered from depression after losing my career as a teacher and writer, but Irish Blind Golf gave me an opportunity and to adapt and learn,” he says.

Portumna Judo Assist is run by James Mulrooney for children with special needs and their siblings. “It’s fun, interactive, gentle play for all abilities, says Andrea Whelan, who nominated the club for the award. “My child lives for Saturday so she can take part in a club that is specifically catered to her needs.” There are classes in Birr, Ardcroney, Nenagh, and Galway.

Angie Benhaffaf nominates Rebel Wheelers in the Cope Foundation in Cork City, a multisport club for children with disabilities. “ My two sons started with the club when they were five last summer. I have seen them grow in confidence, making friendships and trying a wide variety of sports varying from wheelchair basketball to rugby, archery, rock climbing, football, boxing and much more.”

There have also been nominations for power-chair soccer clubs – soccer for users of powered wheelchairs – based in Buttevant, Co Cork, Tullamore Co Offaly and in Dublin City University.

The competition as a whole has drawn more than 1,250 entries at time of writing. Gaelic football is the most nominated sport, with 44 per cent of all nominations. Entries have come from all over the country, with every county bar Fermanagh featuring.

The winning sports club, to be announced in June, will receive a prize of €5,000, with a further €1,000 for another deserving entrant. The prize is provided by the National Dairy Council, the competition’s sponsor.

The final decision will be made by our panel of judges: Grand Slam-winning women’s rugby international Fiona Coghlan; Irish Times online sports editor Noel O’Reilly; and GAA journalist Jerome Quinn. Judges will choose a winner based on criteria including community involvement, club spirit and, of course, sporting achievement.

Entrants are invited to write a short pitch – of no more than 500 words – for any sports club, at irishtimes.com/bestsportsclub. You have until Sunday, May 15th to nominate a club. You don’t have to be a member to nominate, and a club can be nominated more than once.

The winning club will be announced next month.

The Irish Times Best Sports Club in Ireland competition is sponsored by the National Dairy Council

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