Linfield boys get off-field education
football clubs can be successful off the field as well as on it and it was uplifting to read about the Linfield Academy under-16 team's journey to Flanders in Belgium to participate in an International Peace Tournament this week.
The pursuit of silverware is high up a club's list of priorities – particularly Linfield's – but they can also play an important educational role in the lives of young people.
Blues boss David Jeffrey (pictured) has always endorsed the view that clubs can help to create better individuals, not just better fooballers.
The Belgian adventure, which began on Sunday and finishes tomorrow, is a sporting and educational project sponsored by the International Trust for Peace & Education (ITPE), a Belgian-based charity with strong links to peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland.
As well as competing in a three-team tournament against local sides, the Linfield boys are enjoying a tour of local battlefields and other historical sites in the historic Flanders region.
The travelling party will pay respect to the fallen at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in nearby Ypres and remember a number of former Linfield players who lost their lives during the Second World War.
Director of the Linfield Academy David Chisholm said: "It is likely that the tournament will be expanded in 2014 to commemorate the Christmas Truce of 1914 when British and German soldiers briefly ceased hostilities for a football game on the battlefield."
We are very familiar with the importance of peace and reconciliation initiatives in Northern Ireland and adventures like this broaden the minds of young people.
Just something else for the Blues to be proud of.