Plaudits for kicking sectarianism out of football
I AM writing this letter to thank some of the unsung heroes who have been instrumental in the progress made over the last 10 years on the EU Peace-funded, anti-sectarian Football For All project.
Following the low of Neil Lennon's retirement from international Football in 2002, Football For All has shown how partnership work and teamwork can transform situations. Northern Ireland international games regularly sell out now. Where there were once sectarian chants and a sea of red, white and blue, the atmosphere now is much more family-friendly.
As a result of this successful anti-sectarian work, it is now normal for Celtic and Rangers players to play side-by-side for Northern Ireland. However, there is still more work to be done before we realise our vision of empowering the sport of football to reflect a more confident, diverse and inclusive Northern Ireland.
I am writing this letter not only to thank the Community Relations Council, fans, local clubs, IFA staff and Football For All volunteers for their support, but to publicly thank the sports and news media, and journalists in Northern Ireland for backing the anti-sectarian message so wholeheartedly.
Your support in the early days of Football For All was crucial and greatly appreciated.
In many ways, you are the real unsung heroes. Thank you for your support.
Football For All