Crusaders legend Roy Walker has warmly applauded the club’s latest commitment to enhancing community relations in north-Belfast.
Walker, who was the last manager to guide the Shore Road club to championship glory in 1995 and 1997, was at Seaview yesterday to learn more about the ‘Mes Que Un Club’ project supported by Seaview Enterprises and Amateur League side Newington YC.
Boosted by cash from the Special EU Programmes Body’s Peace III fund, the ultimate prize at the end of the rainbow is a new Giant’s Park Sports & Media Village at North Foreshore.
But until September 2014, the Project Team will use sport as the tool to engage with primary and post-primary schools, sports clubs, community groups and youth teams from both Crusaders and Newington in various activities.
Hopefully the project will reach out to 1,500 young people and provide 200 participants with qualifications in Sports Leadership and Irish FA Coaching Qualifications.
The project has already engaged 450 Primary 7 children through it’s North Belfast Champions League Project at Seaview with 16 primary schools participating on a soccer and research project which focuses on eight famous clubs who qualified for this season’s Uefa Champions League.
‘Mes Que Un Club’ — the motto of Barcelona meaning ‘more than a club’ — is being driven by men and women who believe, as Newington boss Eamonn McCarthy put it, that “football is the religion of life”.
Former Ballymena United and Glenavon boss Walker said: “We need to get away from a ‘them and us’ mentality and that’s why I really applaud the education aspect.
“Some people will not change their ways but we have to move beyond that and I think it starts at grassroots level.
“Everyone has the same issues in life in these austere times and anything that promotes the best of everyone’s interests should be supported. We started that some years ago with Shankill Road lads like Kirk Hunter playing alongside Dubliners like Roddy Collins who became the best of mates.
“Some said ‘as long as your team keeps winning it will be tolerated’ but we’ve moved beyond that now and thank goodness we have.”
One north-Belfast man keen to give his backing to the project and act as an ambassador is television presenter Eamonn Holmes.
“I grew up in the Newington area, attended Holy Family Primary and played football at the Grove Playing Fields,” said Holmes.
“These were happy times in my life and I am only too happy to continue to give my full support to Crusaders and Newington Football Club in this fantastic venture.
“Anything that is being done to bring the communities of north-Belfast closer together has my full support and I commend the work being done by Seaview Enterprises.”
Newington YC boss Eamonn McCarthy said: “I feel extremely proud and privileged to be managing a club that has shown the courage and vision that Newington YC has in partnership with Crusaders in its ‘Mes Que Un Club’ project.
“I commend the people from both clubs who are driving this vision to a real life project and I have seen at first hand the huge impact it has made on our local youth and long may that continue.”