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Ulster sports women to swap codes in unique programme

Ulster Camogie and Ulster Hockey have joined forces to launch ‘Yes We Can’, a unique peace and reconciliation programme that will promote engagement in sports while also supporting the development of positive and lasting friendships between young women, their leaders, and their Clubs across the community divide.

The project is part of the Play Fair programme which is part financed by the EU’s Peace III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the CAN (Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey) Peace III Partnership.

Over the next six months, more than 30 young sportswomen from the Newtownabbey and Greater Belfast areas will learn new skills from each other’s Codes while also having the opportunity to take part in activities designed to promote personal development and well-being and that address difficult issues such as sectarianism and racism.

The Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Paula Bradley, who officially launched the programme at the Mossley Mill event, commented: “Sport brings people together, contributes to healthier and happier communities and enriches the lives of those who take part.

“We are delighted that the local clubs St Enda’s GAC and Mossley Hockey Club are joining with Bredagh GAC in this innovative ‘Yes We Can’ project.”

This is the first time that many of the young sportswomen have had the occasion to engage in cross-community work through sport, and even at this early stage new friendships are beginning to develop. It is also the first time that Ulster Hockey and Ulster Camogie have worked together on such an initiative and both Associations hope that as well as contributing towards stronger and better community relations locally, the project will also help grow each sport by bringing in new players from non-traditional backgrounds.

Jennifer Patterson, President of Ulster Hockey said: “This new relationship with Ulster Camogie has provided a significant new opportunity to engage with another Code and to make a real difference to both sports, both communities, and most importantly, to the lives of the young women involved.

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Speaking after the event, Catherine O’Hara, Chairperson of Ulster Camogie said: “I think the message today for all those involved in administering sport at a local level is that we can achieve much together that we cannot on our own.”

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