Spirit of Youth - Ciaran Murphy
Accepted by Patrick Nelson, IFA CEO
Ciaran Murphy's determination and sporting ability helped him triumph in the face of adversity. The talented young man couldn’t be at the Making The Difference awards ceremony celebrations, so the chief executive of the Irish Football Association, Patrick Nelson, stepped in to accept the Spirit of Youth award on his behalf.
Following family difficulties, the 17-year-old found himself homeless.
He decided to seek refuge at the Flax Foyer hostel in Belfast.
Ciaran later became involved in the Northern Ireland Street League.
His impressive ball skills led him to being selected to represent Ireland in the Homeless World Cup in Brazil.
“Ciaran has turned his life around by participating in the Homeless League. Well done to him,” Patrick said.
“We’ve been running it for about a year now and the evidence is, from other cities where homeless leagues have been run, the lads who have been involved in it do actually lift themselves up the ladder a little bit.
“Whether it’s getting a flat or a job or just a bit of hope, then it’s worthwhile.
“We’re very much behind it and I give credit in particular to the East Belfast Mission, who really helped us set up the original street league here.”
The Belfast Telegraph caught up with Ciaran to find out how he was feeling about being the first recipient of the Spirit of Youth award.
The inspirational young man said he was shocked to learn he had been nominated and even more shocked when he found out he had won.
The determined teenager has successfully rebuilt a relationship with his family and is currently employed as a floor layer, though now his confidence has grown, he has hopes for a glittering career in football.
He said he is excited about what the future might hold for him now he is feeling more |himself and is back on track.
“I’m over the moon and so glad I got the award,” he said. “I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t be at the ceremony.”
Ciaran, who is a big Leeds United fan, credits his involvement with Flax Foyer and the Homeless League for turning his life around.
“Being in Brazil was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I met loads of new people and made new friends. The country is great and I had so much fun.
“I’m sorted now. I’ve got a job and I am getting on again with my family. I’m hoping to sign for an Irish League club this summer. The future is definitely looking good.”