At Community Finance Ireland 37% of our loan portfolio is made up of organisations from the sporting sector. So our team spend a lot of time talking to and walking with those in their local communities who see sport as a means to offer opportunities, address rural decline and also help personal and community fitness.
Each has a very hands-on approach when it comes to working with our clients. We put people first. When our clients call with a query, they hear a familiar voice at the end of the phone. They know the face who is at the other end of an email. Our change-makers are on the ground, supporting communities, meeting clients and making an impact in their regions.
We speak finance but we hear people – So, we thought you might like to hear their own thoughts on what a sporting change-maker might look like and also their own sporting stories.
Our next Change-Maker is Lita Notte, Head of Marketing and Communications from Cork City and living in the idyllic Carlingford.
What has been your own involvement in sports?
As a young child/teenager I got involved in sport as it was the only real way to have some time and chats with my Dad – who played football until he was actually 48 and his legs failed. I spent many cold dark evenings running behind him as he was a key volunteer for the local Togher Athletics Club.
Athletics and basketball were my sports of choice. I won some medals and captained my secondary school basketball team in Cork City. Tuesday and Thursday nights were training and Saturday was usually a game or a run somewhere – all of which was organised by parents and local teachers. I guess I didn’t realise then that they ultimately were the volunteering community who helped us all have fun and find friends whilst staying happy and safe.
What client or local sporting clubs do you admire and why?
Our client Finn Valley FC in Donegal is a wonder to me. With my background in athletics I understood first-hand how that type of facility would help all the athletics around the hinterland feel like they could run at any speed and at any length. It was a stark contrast to the training facilities available to us in Cork back in our day. The team here focus on fostering opportunity and that is also to be admired. Opportunities exist for all their members to strive for excellence and compete to their personal best. They really have built a world class sporting facility that you would expect in a capital city – not a rural location in Ireland.
Who is your sporting hero and is there a particular reason?
Martina Navratilova tennis champion extraordinaire. She helped put female tennis on a level playing field. Both on the court and off it she was a trailblazer. It’s thanks to athletes like her that pay differences were addressed and that physical strength not just prettiness was the new norm. Her story off court was just as exemplary – her quiet but effective method of promoting differences and protecting athletes’ private lives from intrusion, were ahead of her time. Sport and sometimes our communities need role models that push us to accept who we are is really all we need to be. Nowadays when watching Wimbledon on TV I’m thrilled to see her front and centre in the BBC commentary panel. She was and is a voice for all independent and confident women.
How has sport helped you/ your family/ community personally?
Although I don’t compete anymore or even play sport much these days (sea swimming is my new fix) I remember how sport helped us a family have fun and be together. It definitely helped me understand the importance of teamwork. My family continue to connect across sporting events (recent Olympics was a great Whatsapp driver) and when I see local cars pulling kids up outside local pitches or clubs I’m reminded that both memories and adults are being made right there.
Finally on a scale of 1 (average) to 5 (excellent) how do you rate your own fitness?
I think I can only be honest and give myself a 2+ at this stage. But it means I have something to strive for – and as any sporting enthusiast will tell you having something to strive for is the best situation to be in.
If you and your team, have a dream that could make a difference in your community, we’re here to listen. Whether you want to change something by solving a problem or creating an opportunity, we want to hear what you have to say. Get in touch with us today.