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Welcome our special US guests to Northern Ireland

By Arder Carson

Published 24/11/2015

Lord Mayor Arder Carson
Lord Mayor Arder Carson

Picture the scene. Thousands of schoolchildren cheering at a major sporting event being hosted outside the USA for the first time ever.

That's what will be happening in our city later this week when - over Thanksgiving Weekend - the Friendship Four ice hockey tournament is hosted in Belfast.

Thanks to Belfast City Council's Sister City relationship with Boston, this showcase will allow the young (and young at heart) to be part of the action beamed to fans across the Atlantic.

And, here at home, we are ensuring that our young people are a key element of this inaugural festival. As well as schools from all parts of Belfast there will be representatives from community and youth organisations all receiving free passes to join in the fun.

In addition to the activity on ice, a month-long series of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) events have been running at W5, linking our schools and further education colleges with those in the United States.

The prestigious National College Athletic Association is bringing teams from four of Boston's top colleges to Belfast and the spin-off for us is the opportunity to network and define future collaboration.

There is so much potential and so many outcomes already achieved through our Sister City link with Boston. Since entering into our agreement in 2014, tremendous work has been carried out to maximise our academic, sporting, business and cultural connections. Our good friends and key influencers in Boston have ensured we continue to foster stronger trade, investment and educational links, too.

I look forward to rolling out the welcome mat to our American visitors this week and have no doubt they will enjoy the warmth of our world-renowned Belfast hospitality.

And I can't wait to sit amongst the crowd of ice hockey fans in the SSE Arena and be part of an historic sporting highlight.

So let's give our Boston guests a Thanksgiving Weekend that will live long in their memories, and ensure that the Friendship Four lives up to its title.

I have no doubt we will score a massive win on both of these goals. Enjoy!

  • Arder Carson is Lord Mayor of Belfast. For more information on the Friendship Four ice hockey festival go to www.friendshipfour.com

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