McMenemy: Awards will get bigger and better
LAWRIE McMENEMY MBE said the Torbay Sports Awards could only get 'bigger and better' as a result of the partnership between the Herald Express, Torbay Council and Friends of South Devon College.
The former Southampton FC manager was special guest speaker at the awards last Thursday, mainly through his connection with Friends of SDC board member Alan Hart.
McMenemy handed out the overall winner's prize at the climax of the evening, but also gave a speech about his role in the Special Olympics.
Since relinquishing a role in football, McMenemy has been a passionate supporter of the Special Olympics, which next year are being held in Bath.
With a wealth of experience in all aspects of upvc, from windows & doors to conservatories and anything in between GDH UPVC offers competitive prices why not call today you maybe surprised!
Contact: 01803 226676
Valid until: Thursday, June 20 2013
While the Paralympics are designed to be an elite-level competition for disabled athletes, the Special Olympics promotes itself as fostering community sport year-round at all levels for those with intellectual disabilities.
McMenemy said: "I think for sport in general, youngsters, whether they are athletic or not, there should be an opportunity for them to train and compete in something.
"What I'm concentrating on is the kids with learning difficulties.
"Not everybody is aware that there are three Olympics, but I'm hoping that on the back of the London Olympics and Paralympics the next [Special Olympic] games will have a lot more publicity.
"You might not have family or friends with learning difficulties, but you might want to come along and volunteer. I can say from experience that it gives you a real sense of achievement.
"People ask me why I do it, and I tell them that it's because I get a lot of cuddles – especially from the Downs Syndrome kids.
"But if you are born with a disability, why shouldn't you have the same opportunity?"
McMenemy gave an empassioned plea for people to get involved as volunteers or just spectators at next year's Special Olympics GB National Summer Games which are being held in Bath from August 28 to September 1.
He said: "There's two things that it needs – awareness and funding. More and more people are getting to know about it, but it needs more people to be aware, and if you look at the website of Special Olympics Great Britain there will be a group that you can join.
"When the games were held in Leicester there was a stadium with more than 25,000 people in it, and they had a lad who went up and gave a speech.
"I found out later that a few years before that his family could hardly get him out of the house because of confidence issues.
"It shows that sport changes people lives, and I would encourage people of any age to get an interest like that."
McMenemy said that he was last in South Devon in 2010 with Graham Taylor having been invited by the college.
But he said the rolling together of the Friends' annual dinner with the Torbay Sports Awards had helped shine a spotlight on many different sports.
He added: "The last time that I was here was two or three years ago and I came because of Alan Hart, and this is the first time that the Friends' event has been rolled into the awards, so I think it can only get bigger and better.
"Awards like this have a series of benefits to everybody.
"You see a lot of sports gettting recognised where it's not about money.
"You hear more and more about extra revenue going into football from the TV, but this isn't about that."