Belfast Telegraph

George Best's Belfast stomping ground to become peace pitch

By Rebecca Black

The east Belfast green where George Best kicked his first football is set to be officially linked to the site of one of the most famous football matches in history.

Cregagh Green is to be officially twinned with Flanders Peace Field in Belgium, site of the 1914 Christmas truces, where Allied troops and German forces came together to play football during a pause in the horror of war.

And as part of today's official twinning ceremony, pupils from three local primary schools will take part in a 'friendly' to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Later this year, they will have the chance to attend the Global Peace Games at Messines, Belgium.

East Belfast DUP councillor Tommy Sandford described the twinning as "fitting".

He said: "This is a very poignant way for the next generation to mark the centenary of the end of WWI; to reflect and learn about some of its history.

"It's long been acknowledged that sport can be a uniting factor and it's the same today as it was 100 years ago - and how fitting that this is happening at the very place where Bestie played football as a young boy."

Brendan Hanlon, chairman of the National Children's Football Association (NCFA), which organised the initiative, said: "More than 100 children will be involved in the twinning event which will evoke the spirit of the iconic Christmas truces football games in 1914.

"This is a wonderful way of bringing the community together and I hope that some of the young people taking part might make new friends and this could become a regular fixture on the local sporting calendar."

Ernie Brennan, NCFA CEO, added: "There are many monuments commemorating war; the peace pitch not only commemorates war, but celebrates peace. Sport is a brilliant way to bring people from all different backgrounds together.

"There is no finer symbolic place than the home of George Best - one of the world's greatest footballers - to designate as a peace pitch."

Belfast Telegraph

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