Release Date: 09/08/2012
ON Friday, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI), Ulster Rugby, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Irish FA will host the Belfast Interface Games flagship event at Seaview from 6pm–9pm.
Throughout the summer, the participating sporting organisations have held a series of multi-sports camps in North, West, East, and South Belfast for children aged 9–13 from interface communities. In the spirit of the 2012 London Olympics, the Belfast Interface Games focuses on the three most popular sports in Northern Ireland, while celebrating diversity in a fun, inclusive environment.
On the evening of August 10, participants from across Belfast will compete on integrated teams in football, rugby and gaelic matches, as well as skills competitions, and will be joined by local and international sports stars. The official motto of this summer’s Olympic Games, “Inspire a Generation,” takes on a special meaning as children from Belfast’s most divided communities unite through sport as the world’s greatest athletes compete on the most historic global stage.
“The Irish FA is thrilled to be part of this project with PeacePlayers, Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby. The Irish FA is committed to promoting Football For All, creating a fun, safe and inclusive culture. This project is a great example of how sport can play a leadership role in shaping a shared future and promote respect for diversity. This supports our Community Relations programme which is supported by Peace III, UEFA, DSD and Comic Relief. It is a wonderful opportunity for children from these interface areas to participate in all three sports in a safe and respectful environment,” said Aongus O’Keeffe, Irish FA Club & Community Development Officer.
“Ulster Rugby is proud to have contributed to the ‘Belfast Interface Games ’, and looks forward to the Flagship event at Seaview this coming Friday. Alongside our partners in the Irish FA, Ulster Council GAA and PeacePlayers International, we aim to encourage young people throughout the province to come together and share experiences through sport, and believe that this venture is an example of the good that can be achieved,” said Barry Willis, Community Rugby Manager, IRFU Ulster Branch.
“Ulster GAA are delighted to be part of the Belfast Interface Games, working closely with our colleagues in the Irish Football Association and Ulster Rugby. Despite all three sports having their own specific values and philosophies, we all have several things common and that includes a vision to bring our sports into new communities and to promote a shared future based on tolerance and respect. The programme is a great example of how communities can be brought together through the common interest of sport and all it offers," said Danny Murphy, President Ulster GAA.
This project is supported under the Belfast PEACE III Plan by the European Union's “European Regional Development Fund” through the PEACE III Programme and was designed to provide a positive alternative to antisocial behaviour during times of heightened violence in interface communities while encouraging young people to become agents for peace and reconciliation.
”We are delighted that the Belfast Interface Games project has been able to run in Belfast with the support of the PEACE III Programme. This kind of project provides tremendous opportunities for young people to come together through sport and to promote positive relations in the city,” said Councillor Máire Hendron, Chair of the Good Relations Partnership.
“I really want to show my support for this project and pay tribute to all involved in promoting good relations across our City. We have a great sporting tradition in Belfast and host a wealth of talent of which we are justifiably proud. There are numerous health and social benefits associated with engaging in sports so it is particularly rewarding to see it flourish within the City,” said Lord Mayor, Alderman Gavin Robinson.
The event will be hosted by Jim Fitzpatrick, PPI-NI Board member and BBC NI Economics and Business Editor. Special guests will include National Basketball Association (NBA) players Robin and Brook Lopez, as well as local sporting celebrities from each of the local sports organisations including; from football Stephen Baxter and Colin Coates from Crusaders FC; from GAA Ruairi Convery (Derry Hurler) and Brian Mallon (Armagh Footballer); and from rugby Rory Best, Nevin Spence and Iain Henderson.
“Against the backdrop of the success of the Olympic Games in London, Belfast's Interface Games represents a fantastic way to showcase the powerful potential of sport for community relations and peace building work. Inspired by the corner stones of the Olympic Games; friendship and respect for yourself and those around you, this initiative is helping to bring out the best in our young people and in wider society. We welcome the partnership with the three governing bodies; IFA, Ulster GAA and Ulster Rugby and the support of Peace III, Belfast City Council and the people of Belfast and in particular those who live around the interfaces. By showing that we can learn to play together we can also show that we can learn to live together,” said Trevor Ringland, Chairman, PeacePlayers International – NI.
The event will end with an awards ceremony and local community leaders have also been invited to attend.
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