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 Scholarship 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 University of Ulster 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 Scholarship 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.

Brendan Wooten

Chairman of Sport Changes Life US 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 Scholarship program and other work which Sport Changes Life engages in. Brendan can be contacted at

David Gavaghan

Chairman of the Board

David recently established Aurora Prime Real Estate to focus on a new dawn emerging in Belfast and is seeking to raise £50m locally and internationally to invest in Grade A office space in Belfast. Until April this year, he was Chief Executive of Titanic Quarter - a strategic site that has the potential to become one of the most exciting developments across the islands of Ireland and Britain. David is currently Chair of Visit Belfast and the environmental arm of Business in the Community in NI. He is also Vice Chair of the Regional CBI (becoming Chair in 2016) and Vice Chair of the Washington Ireland Program.

David has a degree from Trinity College, Dublin in Economics and Social Studies and had his secondary education at Blackrock College, Dublin. David is married to Helen O’Malley and together they have 8 children (four boys, four girls) ranging in ages from 24 to 2 years old! He lives in Killinchy, Co Down and keeps fit by running, doing the occasional half-marathon when not chasing kids!

Professor Deirdre Brennan

Co Founder and Board Member of Sport Changes Life

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 Scholarship Program.

Mark Marais

Co 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.

Francis Powell

Sport Changes Life US Board Member

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.

Maebh Sherry

Sport Changes Life 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 Scholarship 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

Darryl Shazier

Sport Changes Life US Board Member

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

Catherine Waterworth

Sport Changes Life NI Board Member

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 NI Board Member

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.

Matthew Graves

Sport Changes Life US Board Member

Matthew is a graduate of the 2012-13 Victory Scholar program and returns to help the US Sport Chnages 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

Ciaran McAuley

Sport Changes Life NI Board Member

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.

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