North Belfast kids Crues through 'Game of Three Halves' event
Local youngsters being put through their paces at the 'Game of Three Halves' event at Seaview football stadium
RAIN didn't stop play as more than 60 sporting youngsters from north Belfast headed to Seaview football stadium to try their hands, and feet, at three of the most popular sports in Northern Ireland.
The 'Game of Three Halves' event was organised by community development charity the 174 trust under their 'Together Stronger' programme. It gave young people from the area an unprecedented opportunity to have a go at sports they may not usually play due to their community background.
Coaches from the IFA, the GAA and Ulster Rugby put participants through their paces as they learned the basics, or improved their skills in soccer, gaelic football and rugby. Showcasing their new-found skills in a mixed-team "play off" of all three sports at the end of the event.
Paul Braithwaite, Together Strongerproject coordinator, said a great time was had by all: "The children who took part were all aged between 9 and 17 and although we all got soaked, it was really good fun.
"It was a great opportunity for young people to try new sports in a safe environment where everyone's culture and community background are respected."
He said events like the Game of Three Halves do help to build lasting relationships between youngsters: "Some of the kids at the event were coming to us for the first time, but within the group there are around 10 or 15 young people who we have engaged with over the last year and for them we have seen a real difference. They've formed real friendships on a cross-community basis and continue to express an interest in doing things together."
Paul said young people are somewhat "ahead of the game" when it comes to building cross-community relationships: "They don't necessarily have the same psychological barriers that older people might have.
"Our hope is that events like this can contribute in some small way to challenging the divisions that still mark our society and prevent us from moving towards a truly shared future."