The Board

Gareth Maguire

CEO and Co-Founder of Sport Changes Life

CEO Gareth Maguire has been at the forefront of the Sport Changes Life movement since the pilot of the Victory Scholar Program in University of Ulster in 2007.

There has been 28 Victory Scholars in total since its launch in Sport Changes Life, formerly USNI Sport. The idea of bringing elite scholar athletes from America to earn a Masters and at the same time work in the local community and raise the aspirations of young people in sport, all while playing the sport they love came from Co-Founders CEO Gareth Maguire, Professor Deirdre Brennan at the Ulster University and International business man Mark Marais.

CEO Gareth Maguire has lead the way with his vision to help develop basketball and change the lives of young people of Ireland through sport developing EHOOPS Programs and Sports Programs with his wife Deirdre. The Victory Scholar program has gone from strength to strength in the past number of years with a rebrand of the company in early 2012 to Sport Changes Life.

David Gavaghan

Chairman of the Board & Director

David has established Aurora Prime Real Estate to focus on a new dawn emerging in Belfast.  In a modern day context, the city’s renaissance is restoring it to what it was a century ago– a hive of industry, creativity and wealth formation. The Aurora Fund is in the process of raising £50m equity locally and internationally to invest in Grade A office space in Belfast.

Until April 2015, David was CEO of Titanic Quarter – a strategic site with the potential to become one Europe’s most exciting waterfront regeneration projects. Previously he was the Executive Director of Quintain Estates and Development plc responsible for its specialist fund management business. Prior to that, David was CEO of Strategic Investment Board, advising Ministers in Northern Ireland on the region’s infrastructure programme.  He has extensive experience in project and tax based finance and was a Director of Hambros Bank in the City of London.

David is the current Chair of CBI Northern Ireland, holding the post until the end of 2017, as well as a non-executive director of national CBI Board. David is also Vice Chair of the Washington Ireland Program. He is both a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (and a member of the RICS UK and Ireland Board).

Educated at Blackrock College and Trinity College Dublin, he studied Economics and Social Studies at university. David is married to Helen O’Malley and together they have 8 children (four boys, four girls) ranging in ages from 25 to 4 years old! He lives in Belfast and keeps fit by running, doing the occasional half-marathon when not chasing kids!

Professor Deirdre Brennan

Founder of Sport Changes Life and Director

Deirdre joined Ulster University as a staff member in 1992 and is based in the School of Sport. She holds a BA Hons Sport & Leisure Studies, a PGCE (Physical Education), an MA Leisure Studies and a PhD. As well as leading teaching and course development in the area of physical education Deirdre established and is Director of the award winning Ulster University Sports Outreach Unit which is dedicated to the design, development and delivery of physical activity and health Programs to young people in areas of greatest disadvantage. Her Sports Outreach Programs are central to the Ulster Universities’ community engagement and widening access strategies. They are delivered by a body of 200 student volunteers with the annual contribution to the sport and leisure industry in Northern Ireland estimated to be in the region of £500,000. Deirdre pioneered the Universities’ Talented Athlete Entry Program as well as the Victory Scholar Program

Mark Marais

Founder of Sport Changes Life and Vice Chair of the Board

Mark is a Zimbabwean who has lived in Belfast since 1993. He is married to Marcella (who has been involved with SCL from its inception) and has two daughters Louise and Emily.

He is happiest when busy and is the owner of luxury travel specialists Chaka Travel. He has a few other business interests as well as being on the local board of the Lords Taverners charity. Having been very fortunate to grow up in a sport mad environment he believes in the power of sport to bring out the best in people.

Mark played cricket and rugby when younger and now frustrates himself on the golf course. He is very proud of his involvement in Sport Changes Life and his role which primarily involves supporting Gareth Maguire and Deirdre Brennan who he has the greatest respect for.

Catherine Waterworth

Sport Changes Life Company Secretary & Director

Holding an MSc in Business Improvement from UUJ & a Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management, Catherine is Director of Corporate Assurance at Connswater Homes, a not-for-profit housing association, where as a member of the senior management team she leads and influences strategy & also has responsibility for corporate governance, internal audit, housing management, property maintenance, administration & business improvement strategies.

Catherine has first-hand experience, and is fully cognisant of, the difficulties and challenges that come with working in divided communities, interface areas and the insular nature of segregated communities in Northern Ireland. Committed to equality of opportunity for all, Catherine believes that we all need to give something back to society if we want to bring about the changes required for all young people to be in the position to have the opportunity to be employable and reach their potential to be the best that they can be.

Dr Suresh Tharma

Sport Changes Life Director

Dr Suresh Tharma FRCOG is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. He founded the 3fivetwo Group, Northern Ireland’s largest private healthcare company, in 2003 with the vision of providing local people with a wide choice of world-leading services right on their doorstep.

Today, the Group comprises the flagship private hospital Kingsbridge Belfast, which also houses the National Sports Injury Clinic, and its sister hospital Kingsbridge Sligo, as well as Origin Fertility Care, 3fivetwo Training Academy, Cosmetech, H3 Health Insurance and Sweeney Opticians Eye and Hearing Care.

Martin J Craigs

Sport Changes Life Director

Martin was invited to join the board of SCL in 2017 when he returned to his family home in Northern Ireland after a 30 year overseas business career, based primarily in Hong Kong.

He started his aerospace marketing career in 1977 at Short Brothers, now Bombardier Belfast  only a mile from today’s SCL HQ.

He has also sold airliners for Saab and British Aerospace/ Airbus. He completed his overseas career as CEO of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA ). He remains Chairman Emeritus of Aerospace Forum Asia ( AFA ) and as an advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.( UNWTO)

In 2015 he became Chairman of his son , Kain’s golf and inward investment company IGG

Martin has a particular interest in SCL as sport changed his life in 1969 when he won a 5 year sports scholarship to Millfield School in Somerset. He trained for the Munich Olympics ( 100 metres backstroke ) but failed.

However the Millfield scholarship  dramatically increased his confidence ,ambition and “wanderlust” as SCL clearly does today with its Victory Scholars.

Ciaran McAuley

Sport Changes Life Hon. Treasurer & Director

Ciaran McAuley joined the Sport Changes Life family in 2015. He is the Chief Operating Officer of the Lyric Theatre. He joined the company in April 2009 and since then, has overseen the capital rebuild, the move into and re-opening of the award-winning new theatre.

A former Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, he was previously the Commercial Director of the Grand Opera House before which he worked as an accountant and business analyst in a variety of industries, including retail, facilities management and textile manufacturing.

He is a former President of Accounting Technicians Ireland, an alumnus of the Institute of Irish Studies at Boston College and a board member of TheatreNI. He also sits on the Creative and Cultural Skills Advisory Group for Northern Ireland and the Ministerial Arts Advisory Forum, helping shape and develop an arts strategy for Northern Ireland.

Brendan Wootten

Sport Changes Life US Chair of Board

Brendan Wootten is a financial professional currently employed by Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York. With over 20 years of experience, Brendan is registered as a Broker-Dealer Agent and is able to buy/sell securities. He has worked within the Goldman, Sach & Co since 2003 and remains there today. In 2006 he was invited to become a Managing Director of the company.

He is part of the American board for Sport Changes Life and has therefore commited to an advisory role alongside other distinguished members. Members on the US board create an excellent point of entry for the Sport Changes Life Foundation. They enable Co – Founders of the Foundation to engage with Universities and elite athletes who have a keen interest in the Victory Scholar program and other work which Sport Changes Life engages in. Brendan can be contacted at

Maebh Sherry

Sport Changes Life President & US Board Member

Maebh Sherry is Vice President at Goldman, Sachs & Co. since 1996. Maebh is originally from Monaghan and is sister to Co-Founder Professor Deirdre Brennan. She now lives in New Jersey with her children and husband as well as being a member of the Sport Changes Life board.

Maebh Sherry is part of the American board for Sport Changes Life and has therefore commited to an advisory role alongside other distinguished members. Members on the US board create an excellent point of entry for the Sport Changes Life Foundation. They enable Co-Founders of the Foundation to engage with Universities and elite athletes who have a keen interest in the Victory Scholar program and other work which Sport Changes Life engages in.

If you wish to contact Maebh regarding Sport Changes Life get in touch by emailing

Francis Powell

Sport Changes Life US Legal Advisor

Francis Powell is a partner of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP in Boston where his practice includes the representation of clients in a range of business disputes, construction and surety litigation, and defense of product liability and personal injury claims. He is also currently serving as a Special Assistant Attorney General to represent an agency of the Commonwealth in litigation arising from Boston’s “Big Dig.”

Mr. Powell counsels commercial and government clients, individuals and insurers regarding litigation strategy, contracting and risk management. He has been a member of the Sport Changes Life Board since 2010.

He is part of the American board for Sport Changes Life and has therefore commited to an advisory role alongside other distinguished members.

Darryl Shazier

Sport Changes Life US Secretary

A former graduate of the Victory Scholar program, Darryl attended Ulster University, where he earned a Masters degree in Business. Darryl was involved in many aspects of the program, including working with at-risk youth in the local community through the EHOOPS program, coaching a youth girls basketball team, and representing SCL and UUJ at the British University Games. Darryl played a key role in developing and promoting the game of basketball across Northern Ireland.

Currently an analyst at Goldman Sachs, Darryl has returned to the SCL US Board as Secretary to help streamline communication and efforts within and across the US and NI Board, working directly with the Chairman of the US Board.

Darryl can be contacted at

Matthew Graves

Sport Changes Life US Board Member Representative for Victory Scholars

Matthew is a graduate of the 2012-13 Victory Scholar program and returns to help the US Sport Changes Life board develop insights into additions to be made to our prestigious Victory Scholar Program.

As we are an ever expanding organizaion we are always wanting to better ourselves and Matthew is the right man for the job. Graduating from a masters in Business Studies at Ulster University, Jordanstown and with an impressive basketball resume at both Belmont Abbey University and the Ulster elks Matthew went onto become an assistant basketball coach at McDaniel College and most recently returned to coach at Belmont Abbey as an assitant coach. To contact Matthew please email

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