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Mcilroy in Irish Open boost to improve lives of young

By Jim Gracey

Rory McIlroy has ensured young people in Northern Ireland will directly benefit from sporting and educational opportunities out of ticket sales for his Foundation-backed Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Portstewart in July.

Holywood's World No.2 set up his Rory Foundation to help improve the lives of young people around the world with a particular focus here at home through the Sport Changes Life charity.

They will be the primary beneficiaries of the July 6-9 Irish Open with proceeds helping to fund mentoring programmes in Coleraine, Ballymena, Portrush, Londonderry and Belfast, headed by student athletes from the US-based Victory Scholars scheme.

Other local charities who will also benefit will be announced over the coming months.

Yesterday marked 100 days to the start of the Irish Open at Portstewart and the four-time Major winner chose the milestone to announce the partnership and further highlight the work of Sport Changes Life in disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland to help young people find a path to a brighter future with the help of Victory Scholars team leaders from the United States.

Rory, who will be defending his Irish Open title, said: "I'm delighted to announce that Sport Changes Life will benefit from this year's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Sport is obviously an enormous part of my life and has been since I was a kid.

"It's so diverse and to be involved in some shape or form is a great way to gain confidence and express yourself.

"To host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for a third year is fantastic and I am really looking forward to going to Portstewart.

"We've really seen the tournament grow over the last number of years and it's a great platform to showcase what my Foundation does.

"To see how charities can greatly benefit, and especially after the win last year, means a lot to me."

Sport Changes Life is a registered UK charity and US non-profit organisation, founded in partnership with Ulster University.

The primary goal of Sport Changes Life is to provide an opportunity for raising the aspirations of young people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, so that they can live out their dreams and guide them as sport changes their lives.

Barry Funston, Chief Executive of the Rory Foundation, added: "I'm delighted that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is back in Northern Ireland this year.

"The tournament enables us to build on our platform for positive change reaching into the community and developing innovative initiatives to help children and young people in most need.

"Having teamed up with Sport Changes Life over a year ago, we've seen what great work they've done with their Victory Scholar initiative and we're excited to continue our partnership into the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"A percentage of all ticket sales from the tournament will go directly to the Rory Foundation.

"We are all very much looking forward to a sell-out event."

Funds raised by the Rory Foundation for Sport Changes Life will go towards their eHoops programme designed for youth aged between 14 and 19.

The 24-week programme is created to mentor young people through difficult times in their lives and address social issues of concern with the aim to help the young people with their education, job search, health and mental well-being through the aid of the Victory Scholars.

Sport Changes Life are currently aiming to establish the programme in Coleraine, Ballymena, Portrush, Londonderry and Belfast.

Gareth Maguire, CEO and Co-Founder of Sport Changes Life, said: "We are honoured and excited to be selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Rory Foundation, as they host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"We would especially like to thank Barry Funston for all of his efforts as we work together to create more opportunities that will change the lives of the young people we are working with through sport.

"Together Sport Changes Life, Rory and the Rory Foundation have been building towards raising the aspirations of young people in the areas around Northern Ireland that will benefit greatly from our programmes. We can't wait to support Rory and the Rory Foundation during the Irish Open."

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open tickets can still be purchased by logging on to www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com or alternatively from www.roryfoundation.com

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