Sporting legends Gerry Storey and Trevor Ringland ‘squared up’ to each other today to highlight two major initiatives aimed at bringing the people of Belfast together through sport.
The world-renowned boxing coach and former Ulster, Ireland and Lions winger were joined by Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat Convery to launch the UR Game Sports Development Conference on March 10 and the annual Belfast Sports Awards on March 31.
Belfast Community Sports Development Network (BCSDN) has teamed up with Belfast City Council, European Regional Development Fund – Peace 3, Sportopps.com and other partners to organise both events, which will bring clubs and individuals from all sections of Belfast together to celebrate sporting achievement and look at ways of working and playing together.
The aim is to highlight the great work that is taking place on a daily basis at grassroots level and the potential to use sport to unite communities.
Trevor and Gerry are no strangers to awards themselves, having both received MBEs for their outstanding services to sport and for their dedication in helping to bridge the sectarian divide.
Gerry, who coached World Champion Barry McGuigan and is still the only Irish sportsman to be awarded the Laureus (the academy award for sport) said both events would play a valuable role in healing division.
“Sport can change the world and it certainly has the power to change Belfast and help ensure stability throughout Northern Ireland. All the clubs involved in this important work need help and the more funding is put into sport the more they can help make a difference to our society,” he added.
Rugby great Trevor, who is also well known for his work in fostering better cross community and cross border relationships, is the keynote speaker at the conference.
He said both the conference and the awards would demonstrate the valuable role that sport has in society.
“So much in sport is about building relationships. Those who learn to play together also learn to live together. Consistently sport has shown us the way forward in society and will continue to do so in the future,” he added.
The Lord Mayor said both events would highlight the dedication of all those who gIve up their time to provide a sporting platform for young people.
He said: “Since becoming Lord Mayor I have had the privilege of seeing at first hand the work that volunteers do to help unite our community. Sport has a major role to play in ending division as it provides a safe and disciplined environment in which young people from different backgrounds can come together to share a common interest.”
The UR Game Sport Development Conference, which takes place at the Holiday Inn in Ormeau Avenue on March 10, includes a range of in depth workshops looking at subjects such as grant aid and funding, shared spaces through sport and club development.
The conference has been financed by EU’s PEACE 3 Fund and tickets are now available for anyone involved in sport or physical activity to learn more about key issues and network with people from different backgrounds. For more information call Vicky on 028 9033 3527.
The Belfast Sports Awards Evening takes place at Belfast City Hall on March 31 and has been sponsored by Sportopps.com, which employs sport and activity coaches to work with all kinds of groups – schools, youth clubs, churches and community organisations throughout Northern Ireland.
Nominations are being sought in seven categories including best club coach, best community coach, education, as well as awards for the person or organisation that have gone the extra mile to promote physical activity.
For further information and application packs on both the Belfast Sports Awards go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/sportsawards.
Notes to Editors
For more information contact Kelly PR on 02893340275, 07581282723 or 07957142915.
The Belfast Sports Awards began in 2008 and Gerry Storey was the first sporting figure to be inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2009. Another high profile Northern Ireland great is expected to join him and Mary Peters in the Hall of Fame this year.