George Best never got the opportunity to have a go at playing ice hockey when he was growing up in east Belfast — although given his balance and agility Northern Ireland’s most well known footballing talent would probably have been quite decent on skates.
That hasn’t stopped the charity set up in his memory from backing an initiative which uses ice hockey to bring together children from west Belfast, east Belfast and Dublin.
The Belfast Giants HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) programme brought together 34 children from the three areas at a week-long camp, where they were coached by Giants players, including captain Colin Shields.
Barbara McNarry, George Best Foundation Secretary and sister of the world-famous footballer, is happy for the charity to diversify into a different sporting stream.
“Whilst our main driver is football we encompass and encourage all sport. The Belfast Giants HEROS programme fits perfectly with our aims,” she said.
Belfast Giants general manager Todd Kelman, who helped start up the scheme in 2008, said: “The George Best Giant HEROS Programme is as much about their personal development off the ice as their hockey skills on the ice.
“They will develop real friendships with each other, face and overcome some big challenges together and learn how to work more effectively with their differences as well as what they have in common.”