Former judo international Valerie Connolly leads Tipperary Sports Partnership

Partnership delivering online and virtual activities during pandemic

Eamonn Wynne

Reporter:

Eamonn Wynne

Email:

ewynne@nationalist.ie

Valerie Connolly

Fethard woman Valerie Connolly is Sports Coordinator of the Tipperary Sports Partnership

With its involvement in the In this Together and Keep Well campaigns, the Tipperary Sports Partnership is playing a key role in keeping people active and focused during Covid-19.

Its overall aim is to increase participation in sport and physical activity and Valerie Connolly, the partnership’s sports coordinator, says “over the last 12 months we have been working closely with clubs and organisations to support their safe return to sport. Hopefully we will see all activities back to what they were pre-Covid”. 

Like so many others, the pandemic has had a significant impact on Valerie’s working life. Working from home, she uses Zoom and MS Teams to hold online meetings. The partnership has been unable to deliver face-to-face programmes and some programmes have been delayed.

On a positive note, however, Covid has presented it with new ways of working, with the delivery of online and virtual activities.  

“Last year our Tipperary Women’s Mini Marathon was virtual and our recent Tipperary Talks Sport webinar was extremely successful,” says Valerie. 

“Many of our training and education programmes such as safeguarding, sport disability training workshops and activity sessions are now online and we will continue to deliver some elements of our work online into the future.  

“We also developed a variety of resources such as exercise leaflets, videos and most recently a 3k podcast. All of these are available for download on our website www.tipperarysports.ie.”

Her role also focuses on increasing funding for the development of sport and physical activity in the county and creating new and sustainable opportunities to increase participation in physical activity programmes, training/education and supporting the development of sporting infrastructure. 

A former judo international, it isn’t surprising to learn that sport is something she has enjoyed from a young age.

“Growing up in Fethard, there wasn’t the variety of sports available that there is now. I dabbled in some horse riding, volleyball and athletics but judo was my main sport and I was very lucky to be part of the Irish team for over 10 years. 

“When I retired from competitive judo I took up team rugby and Gaelic football. Now I enjoy being active by jogging, cycling, swimming and trying a bit of canoeing, as a result of my involvement in the development of the Suir Blueway and the slalom course in Clonmel.  

“I don’t think there was any sport that I tried that I didn’t like. I studied sports science at University of Limerick and I am very fortunate to be working in the sports sector in a job that I really enjoy.” 

Valerie comes from a sporty family and her mother is Peggy Colville, the county Community Games PRO and someone who has been active in Community Games for decades.

“It’s amazing that she is still involved and volunteering in the Games and still providing opportunities for young people to participate,” says Valerie.  

“I was very lucky that both my mother and late father Pat were extremely supportive, and I try and do the same for my own two children, Lauren and Cian.”

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