U.S. Embassy/FAI Youth Soccer Event

A group of people pose together on a football fieldPrior to the Republic of Ireland v USA friendly, the US Embassy and the Football Association of Ireland partnered to facilitate a ‘cross-border / cross-community’ fun football Event at the YMCA Sports Ground, Sandymount.

Emanating out of Penn State University’s UNESCO-Chair Conference on the importance of sport in youth’s civic development (held prior to Penn State v University Central Florida College Football game in August), this Event embraced the ethos of sport transcending barriers.

The groups involved included;

‘R CITY’ Belfast –.  R CITY (communities integrating through youth) is a programme run between ‘Ardoyne youth club’ and ‘Hammer youth club (Shankill’). The programme runs on a weekly basis and works with over 70 young people aged between 15-18. The capacity building workshops, accredited training and residential trips are tailored to ensure they meet one of our three strategic themes; Leadership and skill base, employment and education, positive youth via media. The young people are amazing ambassadors for their community and will play a huge part in community development as they grow into adult hood. To find out more info please visit www.rcitybelfast.com or R City on Facebook.

Breaking Barriers Limerick – This initiative derives from the idea that sport, and in this case soccer, has no barriers.   In Limerick a fear barrier had built up through crime and violence, where many people, especially youth had feared going into other parts of their city, particularly trouble spots away from their own enclaves.  Another barrier was the lack of positive interaction with Gardai.With FAI / Garda football, provided via the ‘Late Nite League’ structures, both parties are working to integrate youths, away from ‘tribalism’ working towards creating cross-territory friendships / team-building, working towards improved civic behaviour.FAI / Gardai ‘Late Nite Leagues’ Coolock and Limerick – with the assistance of Insurance Group’ IPB’ the FAI / Garda / Local Authorities / Department of Children & Youth Affairs, the above Programme now has 52 ‘centres’ operating in Quarters 1 & 4. A diversionary-scheme operated during traditional ‘ant-social behaviour’ hours, the ‘LNL’ has been a successful tool in both reducing ant-social behaviour, as well as assisting community policing.

Three Groups from our Limerick centres and one from Coolock will be participating today.

Following the official launch of the Event by U.S. Ambassador, Kevin O’Malley, and United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati, a ‘fun’ tournament between all teams started the day, with emphasis being on good sportsmanship. The hope is to then integrate the groups for the final competition – emphasising team building / leadership / friendship.

After a Dublin ‘Chipper’ supper, and presentations of medals and some ‘special raffle items’ kindly donated by USSF / FAI, all participants were guests of the FAI the USA vs Republic of Ireland soccer game at the Aviva Stadium.