| 1.3°C Belfast

Trevor Ringland

Celebrating Northern Ireland sport is crucial to our future

Trevor Ringland


Nigel Carr

Nigel Carr

Nigel Carr

If any place in the world should have a sports museum it should be Northern Ireland/Ulster. For such a small population, we literally punch way above our weight.

From Rinty Monaghan to Barry McGuigan, Dave Boy McAuley and more recently Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and so many others, all of whom achieved greatness on the world stage, never mind the amazing work with young people of those such as Gerry Storey.

Just look around at the different sports.

In golf we have Rory McIlroy, Fred Daly, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, plus we hosted one of the best ever Open Championships at Royal Portrush. Or football: two of the greatest of all-time are ours in Pat Jennings and George Best.

In rugby, with Syd Millar, we have the greatest player in the history of the game, and his commitment to it is unlikely to ever be matched. Then add players such as Jack Kyle, Willie John McBride, Mike Gibson, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe, and captains such as Rory Best.

In motorsports names such as Colin Turkington, Eddie Irvine, Joey Dunlop and his wider family, and of course Jonathan Rea.

Athletics produced the magical moments of the great Mary Peters, and we look forward to watching the career of Ciara Mageean develop.

In horse racing we look at Tony McCoy, or in Gaelic sports at the great All-Ireland winning teams of Down, Armagh, Tyrone and Donegal, and players such as the great Sean O'Neill for Down.

I have only scratched the surface of what we have achieved through sport - there is Dennis Taylor, the Irish hockey team, and so much more.

Sport can offer an identity that can move from the parish or village right up to the world stage, whether on the county, Northern Irish, Ulster, Irish, British or even European stage, such as in the Ryder Cup.

Sport teaches us how to compete without destroying a relationship and to hate without actually hating through the enjoyment of rivalry and competition. We saw how Northern Ireland football recognised that sectarianism was destroying the game and faced up to it.

We should recognise more the work of so many groups here using sport to build the strong relationships so important in any successful society.

My good friend Nigel Carr, together with Mary Peters and others, have strived for years to promote the idea of an Ulster Sports Museum to inspire us.

We should make it a reality, as it would prove that we who share this place have achieved together and can continue to do so.

The future has to be one where we care about all our children, and sport shows how that can be done.

Trevor Ringland is chairman of cross-community basketball group PeacePlayers NI, an ex Irish rugby international, and former MLA

Belfast Telegraph