Football, fun and friendship at ‘Play & Unite’ Camp
Earlier this month, a unique football camp brought together 150 young people from eight football clubs across Belfast for small-sided games, mental health awareness and personal development. The ‘Play & Unite’ Camp was supported by Apex Housing Association and Clanmil Housing and was facilitated by the Sport Changes Life Foundation, in partnership with Celtic Boys Belfast and Knockbreda FC.
Supported by ‘Housing for All’
The camp was made possible through the Department for Communities and Housing Executive’s Shared Housing Programme, which originates from the Northern Ireland Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy. The Strategy reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.
The ‘Play & Unite’ Football Camp
Taking place on the grounds of Aircraft Park, Shorts FC, the camp created an environment where sport, camaraderie, and the values of good relations flourished. The participating clubs included Celtic Boys Belfast, Knockbreda FC, St Malachys Old Boys Youth FC, Glentoran FC, St Oliver Plunkett FC, Shorts FC, Rosario FC, and Albert Foundry FC. The camp provided a unique opportunity for young athletes to connect, learn, and grow through shared experiences.
The camp’s programme featured small-sided games, professional coaching sessions, and workshops on personal development, fostering positive relations, and raising awareness about mental health using the services of local charity, TAMHI. All activities were designed to enhance the participants’ football skills while also imparting crucial life skills.
“Football, fun and friendship”
Sharon Hunt, Senior Communities Officer at Apex, commented:
It was our pleasure to support the ‘Play and Unite’ Camp and see young people from eight different clubs across the city coming together for football, fun and friendship. The camp forms part of our ‘Housing for All’ good relations plan for the Belfast area and builds on the success of last year’s camp with Celtic Boys and Knockbreda football clubs. I’d like to thank Sport Changes Life for facilitating this year’s camp, TAMHI for their work on mental health and Clanmil Housing for working with us to support this valuable programme.
Alan Teggart, General Manager of the Sport Changes Life Foundation said,
At its core, the ‘Play & Unite’ Football Camp transcended the boundaries of sport, serving as a powerful testament to the impact of collective effort in breaking down barriers and nurturing connections among diverse groups. As a Belfast based foundation, we’ve always been committed to our mission of using sports as a vehicle to elevate the aspirations of young people. The camp not only exemplified the positive influence of sports on personal growth but also underscored the potential of shared experiences in fostering a more inclusive society. A huge thank you must go to Clanmil Housing and Apex Housing Association.
Support from Irish League legends
Distinguished guests from the local Irish League clubs added a touch of inspiration to the event.
Several Glentoran Football Club players made an appearance on the first day, followed by a visit from Crusaders FC players and esteemed manager Stephen Baxter throughout the remainder of the camp.
The grand finale of the camp witnessed the presence of David Jeffrey MBE, a revered figure in local football, offering unwavering support and motivation to the young participants.
Mark O’Brien, an ex-Irish League referee, also took the opportunity to engage parents in discussions about respect and their child’s transition to 9-a-side and 11-a-side football.
If you would like to know more about Apex’s good relations work in the Belfast area, please contact Sharon Hunt on 028 7130 4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.