The Community Games organisation celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2017 and it is possible a Longford man will be at the helm as President.
Killoe’s Joe Fox has served two years as Vice President and when asked if he will be in the hunt for the top job at next February’s National AGM in Waterford, he revealed,
“I’ve held many administrative roles within the organisation. I’d love to become President and I believe I’ve the necessary experience for the role.”
Louth’s Gerry Davenport is the current President and Joe regards him as ‘a good friend’.
So we’ve Joe in Community Games and Martin Skelly (Newtowncashel) in the GAA considering Presidential bids. Joe’s involvement in Community Games, as a competitor and administrator, spans five decades. “I represented Longford alongside Ray Flynn and Enda Fitzpatrick in the marathon at the 1972 National Finals in Mosney.”
He is in his fourth stint as Longford Community Games Chairperson, was also appointed President and at national level he has served on the Board of Directors, was Director of Finance and as a qualified Health & Safety Officer, he was Head of Security when the National Finals were first staged at AIT.
Joe is proud of the fact that Community Games is the ‘second biggest voluntary sporting organisation in Ireland in terms of participation’, something that has become more evident with on-line registration.
Longford has 18 affiliated areas and while he laments the absence of Longford North he stressed that efforts are ongoing to attract the well populated Longford town area back into the Community Games fold.
Finding and motivating volunteers is always a challenge but Joe pointed to a recent positive experience during National Volunteer Week. “Sometimes we are guilty of not promoting ourselves enough. During National Volunteer Week we had a stand and I got ten names in two hours of people interested in helping out. That was encouraging.”
Joe describes the current Longford Community Games Executive as ‘the best’ he has worked with and they have ambitious plans for the 2017 Golden Jubilee. “We intend to publish a book on the history of Longford Community Games to coincide with the 2017 celebrations. It will take a lot of time and research, we’ll be looking for stories and photographs and there’ll be more about this over the coming weeks.” There will also be a National Celebration event in Dublin in May 2017.
Longford is well represented among the administrative echelons of National Community Games.
David Hoysted (Support Services Manager) and Leslie Finan (Regional Development Officer) are employed by the organisation, while Joe is Vice President, Shirley Maloney (Ballymahon/Forgney) is part of the Finance Committee, Cathal Kelly (Mostrim) is a member of the Development Committee, Michaela Cox (Killashee) is on the Youth Committee, Aoife Fox (Killoe) is on the Health & Safety committee and Longford Community Games President Patsy Kenny is National Patron.
He suggests there is a ‘wind of change’ blowing in Community Games and that going into the future the organisation may have to refine the number of activities it offers to young children.
“We have over 200 activities and we have to reduce these because we are competing with so many other organisations.”
Athlete Cian McPhillips and swimmer Gerry Quinn are among hundreds of young Longfordians that have enjoyed Community Games participation in recent years and Joe is confident the organisation will continue to be as vibrant.
He thanked the HSE and Pat The Baker for their generous sponsorship of Community Games at national and county level, respectively, and former Longford Town Clerk Dan Rooney for his co-operation and help when Longford hosted the Leinster Community Games Finals.