Photo courtesy of Evelyn Bohan (Galway Globetrotters Basketball Club)
Ten dedicated volunteers, athletes that vary in ages, and a club with a lot of pride.
Trying to summarise the impact of the Galway Globetrotters Basketball Club and the work that the club does in a few words is quite a challenging task.
Founded roughly 25 years ago, Globetrotters Basketball Club is a basketball club under the aegis of Special Olympics Connaught, offering people in Galway with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to play basketball in the club while also allowing athletes to represent Team Connaught in the National Special Olympic Games.
At present, they have ten registered volunteers and sixteen registered athletes.
Basketball coaches Evelyn Bohan and Gina Naughton have been integral to the club staying afloat. Both ladies were involved as coaches in the basketball side that represented Ireland at the World Games in Abu Dhabi, who took home a gold medal. Naughton explains her approach to teaching these athletes of all ages about the game of basketball.
“I try to keep it as real as possible to the game of basketball, because the bottom line is that we probably will go out and play competitive games at some point. If you don’t teach them the fundamentals through drills, they won’t ever get to go out and play against other competitive teams who are taking it a bit more serious. We try to make the drills into a game, to make it fun, and they begin to learn while having fun as well.”
The club was hit with a major setback, like most clubs in any sport throughout the pandemic, when the COVID pandemic essentially shut down all in-person activities, which is key for this small club.
In a scenario like no other, the two coaches went to Special Olympics Connaught for advice on what they could do to stay involved with their athletes and to keep them active during the stretches of lockdown and so on, which is where the video that has now been circulated throughout Special Olympics clubs all over the country came to existence.
In regards to keeping in contact with athletes more regularly, Evelyn felt that they needed to try somethings.
“With the Zoom calls, we realised that [the athletes] were missing out on their weekly training session and everything, missing their weekly chats, so that is why we decided to do the Zoom calls. In the media, you saw all about zoom parties and so on, we recognised that, well, our athletes needed it as well.”
The club began to meet in person again regularly at the start of 2022, training every Monday night at the Mervue Community Centre.
Both Evelyn and Gina spoke at length as to how thrilled they are to have been able to restart their weekly in-person training, so that the relationships that were virtual for the majority of the pandemic can now resume in real-life.
People who wish to volunteer with the Galway Globetrotters and other Special Olympics clubs throughout Galway can learn how they can get involved by clicking here.
For more Galway Pulse stories, click here.