Greg Yarnall Begins New Post As RYA NIs Chief Operating Officer

RYA Northern Ireland’s new Chief Operating Officer, Greg Yarnall, has taken up post this month. In this special feature, he tells us a bit about himself, his professional experience within sport and his priorities for RYA NI.
26 Sep 22
Photograph of the new RYANI COO, Greg Yarnall at the Giants Causeway

Could you please tell us a bit about your professional experience to date?

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector my whole life, first working as a Regional Development Officer for Table Tennis England, before moving on to Northamptonshire Sport, Beanstalk Literacy Charity and then back to Table Tennis England, where my last role was Development Director as part of the Senior Leadership Team.
I have gained experience across many different sports and areas of sport during this time, from leading a coach and volunteer development team, to developing new participation programmes and leading successful multimillion-pound funding bids. I am looking forward to working with the excellent team at RYA NI to help further establish the sport in Northern Ireland.
Do you have any sailing experience and if so, could you please tell us about how you got involved? 

I don’t have any direct sailing experience but hopefully my experiences across other sports can help translate into sailing too. Many sports have the same challenges - from getting more people volunteering, to reducing drop off from young athletes, to facility and funding challenges. My Aunt is a keen sailor and committee member at her local club in Norfolk, England, so I have been getting lots of tips from her and I will be looking to get out on the water myself too.
What are you looking forward to the most in the role?

I am most looking forward to getting out to meet the clubs across NI and learn more about the work the clubs do. I am keen to meet as many clubs as possible over the next few months so please get in touch if there is an opportunity for me to come across to your club and say hi.
Could you tell us about some of your priorities for RYANI in the year ahead?

The priority will be getting to know the team at RYA NI, listening to the staff, Board, clubs, instructors, athletes, and volunteers to get a better understanding of where we need to be spending our time and where our focuses should be to further develop the sport. 

Following this, the RYA NI strategy has been in development now for a considerable time due to delays with COVID and change in staff personnel. Getting this to a point where it is ready to be published will be a key priority as I start to get to know the sport more.
There are also future funding rounds coming up from key stakeholders, such as Sport NI, so I will be looking to connect and build strong working relationships with these partners to better understand where there are crossovers in our organisation’s priorities.
How have you found the move to Northern Ireland?

The move to NI has been a fantastic experience so far, the country is beautiful and so much stunning scenery. 

We haven’t had much time either side of settling our children into school and unpacking to go out and explore to much yet, but we can’t wait to find out more about NI and visit different parts of the country (hopefully taking in some club visits along the way!).
Could you tell us something interesting about yourself that we may not already know?

As a Junior I represented the England Schools Table Tennis Team and have coached for the past 20 years as personal coach to several English National Champions and Internationals.