Belfast Telegraph

Midnight Street Soccer helps tackle racism in Castlereagh

By Michael Bashford

Approximately 60 young people in Castlereagh have been exploring the impact of racism in society during a two week session of the popular Midnight Street Soccer league.

Participants received a training session on anti-racism and sectarianism, and took part in a kick-about session with the Irish Football Association’s (IFA) intercultural team World United.

Funded by the Community Safety Partnership, Midnight Street Soccer is a weekly football league for girls and boys aged 13-17 years old. It is a community football programme which utilises sport as a medium to engage young people, increase participation, reduce anti-social behaviour and build positive relationships between young people in different communities.

It aims to challenge sectarian attitudes and create an understanding of cultures and identities for the young people involved.

Castlereagh Borough Council’s good relations officer has been working with the Midnight Soccer team in an attempt to tackle racism among young people in the borough.

Both organisations strive to build confidence and provide support and opportunities for young people not only in sport, but in the community.

Trainer Davey White used a mix of interactive games and personal stories to encourage the young people of Cregagh to be tolerant of others and take a stand if they see discrimination in their communities.

Following the two week session the IFA intercultural team World United met the Midnight Soccer players for an informal chat about their background in football and cultural differences in their home country.

The evening then culminated with World United playing a competitive match against each team to showcase the growth of local talent in the borough — World United boasts a wealth of talented players from Northern Ireland, Portugal, Zimbabwe, France, Ivory Coast and Poland.

Midnight Soccer has also been teaming up with Dundonald Family and Community Initiative and the Ballybeen Action Project to run a three a-side football tournament in Dundonald Methodist Church.

The project will be branching out into new areas of Castlereagh in an attempt to bring together young people in other areas of the community, providing them with good fun, good competition, physical activity and the opportunity to build positive relationships and make new friends.

Midnight Street Soccer has now finished for Christmas but will begin again in January in the new Hanwood Centre in Castlereagh, utilising their new 3G pitch.

A new league will start on Saturday, January 16, 2010 from 9pm-12 midnight, and will continue to run for 10 weeks.

For further information contact community sports development officer Kathy Crawford on 9049 4564.

Belfast Telegraph

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