Fun and games at Interface just as vital
As the London 2012 Olympics draw to a close, there is a general consensus that these have been among the best Games in recent times.
There were stories of triumph and tragedy, and of great achievements against the odds. No wonder there was so much emotion on so many occasions.
Team GB performed superbly, in what may prove to be the best collective performance in a century. The crowds were supportive, and added a special atmosphere to competitions that were already keenly contested.
Northern Ireland had it own heroes including the rowers and boxers, and the goodwill crossed all borders. People were pleased at the achievements of Team GB and also of Team Ireland.
We in Northern Ireland could claim the best of both worlds, because some of the Team Ireland medallists are based up here. The cheering will not end until after the closing ceremony, but there will be cherished memories of the London 2012 Olympics.
However it is important to recognise other notable sporting achievements, including the Belfast Interface Games which held its flagship event last night.
In the past weeks a number of cross-community sports camps have been held for young people between the ages of nine and 13.
They have been organised by the Belfast Interface Project, which represents some 45 community organisations from unionist and nationalist areas, and also by the Peace Players International charity.
In contests of "three halves" children played soccer, gaelic football and rugby, learning much from each other - and about their sports in the process.
This has been a truly inspiring initiative, and it is every bit as worthy of our cheers as the much -lauded achievements of the Olympic competitors.
These local activities have shown the importance of investing in sport for our young people, as well as in health and education. London 2012 is moving into the past, and much good will be learned from them too, but the Belfast Interface Fames with local children will remain an important part of our future as well.