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Belfast Giants look to nurture Best young talent

While the Play-off winning Belfast Giants are cooling off over the summer the club will be trying to unearth some new heroes.

And although George Best is more well known for parading his skills on grass rather than an ice rink, the foundation set up in the football legend’s memory is playing a part in supporting the scheme.

The HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) programme will use ice hockey to reach out to young people in east and west Belfast as well as the Dublin suburb of Fingal over the summer months and will reach its climax at a week-long camp in August.

“The George Best Giant HEROS Programme is as much about their personal development off the ice as their hockey skills on the ice,” said Giants general manager Todd Kelman.

“They will develop real friendships with each other, face and overcome some big challenges together, and learn how to work more effectively with their differences as well as what they have in common.”

Volunteers from Co-operation Ireland, as well as a group of Canadian volunteers will join Belfast Giants players, like captain Colin Shields and recent signing Mark Garside — who are both staying in Northern Ireland all summer — will lead the programme.

Barbara McNarry, George Best’s sister and secretary of the George Best Foundation, expressed her support for the popular programme.

“The George Best Foundation is delighted to be working alongside the Belfast Giants on this exciting project,” she said.

“Whilst our main driver is football we encompass and encourage all sport.

“The Belfast Giants HEROS programme fits perfectly with our aims and we hope that every young person gains from this experience.”

Sports Minister Nelson McCausland said: “This initiative is a great example as to how sport can play its part in helping Northern Ireland work towards a shared and better future.”

Belfast Telegraph