SIDO Profile – Nuala O’Donovan

Nuala O’Donovan

Over the coming weeks we’ll be profiling the Sports Inclusion Disability Officers based all around the Country that Cara work with to provide opportunities for people with disabilities.

First off, we met with Nuala O’Donovan, who is a SIDO with Dublin City Sports and Wellbeing Partnership.

First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m from Dublin and have been working in Sport for 3 years.  Outside of work, I spend most of my time playing and coaching Ultimate Frisbee. I love all sports and will try my hand at anything. I also like to spend time outdoors and hike/walk when I find the time and I love travelling and exploring new places!

 What motivated you to follow this career path? Was it always an area that you could see yourself being involved in professionally?

I always wanted to work in Sport, I never really had a question over that. During my undergrad I spent some time on an internship with an AFL team in Australia as well as with Special Olympics Ireland. When I returned to college after my internship, I met an Australian girl who was on Erasmus in UL form her course in Belgium and she introduced me to the world of adapted physical activity.

 What areas have you studied as part of your career development? (i.e. what did you study in college and what further training/upskilling have you undertaken since?)

I studied Sport and Exercise Science in UL and went on to do a masters in Adapted Physical Activity in KU Leuven, Belgium. Since finishing my masters, I have taken all opportunities to attend additional courses and conferences to continue to learn about the area of APA.

 What areas are you responsible for in your role as a Sport Inclusion Disability Officer & how long have you been in post?

I have been in post for 4 months now. I am responsible for creating sporting opportunities and pathways for sustainable physical activity for people with disabilities in Dublin City. I also have a responsibility to work with people on educating and training of the inclusion of people with disabilities in sport.

What does a typical day look like for you in your role?

No two days are the same!  I could be doing anything from having a day in the office planning to providing advice to teachers on the phone to being out with a group and rowing down the Liffey!  There is honesty no ‘typical day’.  You need to go in to every day ready to do whatever might come up!

 How do you link with Cara as part of your role as a Sport Inclusion Officer?

So far, I have linked with CARA for Fit For All Week and for the SIDO Networking Day.  It is fantastic to know that CARA is there at the other end of the phone if something comes up that I need support with.

 How can Cara support you more in your role as Sport Inclusion Disability Officer?

I think CARA already do a great job at supporting me in my role.  From when I started as a SIDO, Cara got in touch to say hi and have been very open and easy to work with.

 What do you feel is the most enjoyable and rewarding part of your job?

The most enjoyable part of my job is providing opportunities for people to do things that they thought they might never get to do. For example, rowing along the Liffey

 Is there one initiative/event that you have been involved in through your role that you look on with great pride and satisfaction?

I was very happy with how we managed Fit for All Week in the city. As I was new in the role, it was difficult to coordinate the number of DCC facilities how signed up. A few weeks after Fit for All week, I got an email from service staff to let me know that one of their service users who tried the gym during Fit for All week has continued going regularly.

 How would you like to see yourself progressing within the job over the next five years?

Over the next five years, I would love to see myself coordinating several inclusive programmes in Dublin City as well as supporting mainstream clubs to cater for people of varying abilities. I would like to continue to learn myself and share my knowledge with anyone willing to learn.

 Have you any ideas/initiatives that you would like to see developed over that time?

I would like Dublin Sportsfest Ability to take off as a stand-alone programme as well as or core programmes being advertised as inclusive, so more people feel they are welcome to take part.