Cricket used to bridge cultural and community divides in Northern Ireland

September 25th 2019 by Craig Easdown | International, Coaching, Youth

Cricket used to bridge cultural and community divides in Northern Ireland

Harry Tector, Paul Stirling and Boyd Rankin meet the CIYMS boys at Malahide

BELFAST, DUBLIN – A new cross community sport-based social initiative with Belfast City Council called ‘On the Right Track’, which attracted European Union funding, has used cricket as a vehicle for promoting inclusiveness and bridge cultural divides for a group of boys in Belfast.

The programme, which operates using Peace IV Funding and ran in partnership with Belfast City Council, saw 20 boys from CIYMS Cricket Club’s Under-13s team travel to Dublin. They participated in a cross community cricket coaching session and watched the Ireland Men’s team take on Scotland in the recent GS Holding T20I Tri-Series.

The boys also had the opportunity to meet some of their on-field heroes, including Paul Stirling, Boyd Rankin and Harry Tector – obtaining autographs and taking selfies with the international players.

Peter Topping, Youth Convenor for CIYMS, said:

“We brought the CIYMS Under-13s team down to Dublin as part of a project called On the Right Track. It’s a Peace and Reconciliation project in partnership with Belfast City Council and Peace IV funding. It aims to teach young players to be more inclusive across different communities and cultures, building a greater understand and tolerance of others”

“The programme allows us to use sport to bring young players together and open up opportunities for discussion around equality, racism, sectarianism, religion, culture and social background to promote peace building in Belfast. It’s about using the vehicle of sport to help bridge those gaps and bring people together.”

Image: Michael Hingston from Malahide Cricket Club leads the coaching session

“We’re the first cricket club in Ireland to be involved in this project. We gave the young players an opportunity to participate in a cross community coaching session with Malahide Cricket Club and watch the match between Ireland and Scotland as they have now finished their involvement in this project”,

“On the Right Track looks at using a range of sports – such as cricket, boxing and football – to bring young people from across different communities so that they can get a better understanding of how they can work together, to make friendships, and share stories. This year we’ve been partnered with a school in East Belfast called Our Lady & St Patrick’s College. We’ve also been able to engage Irish international James Cameron-Dow to run coaching sessions for us in the school. There have been so many benefits from our involvement as a club - it’s allowed us to gain funding support, increased our access to coaching hours for player development/membership, and purchase necessary cricket equipment to run the project. The young players have been able to improve their self awareness, understanding and tolerance of others and build new friendships with players from different communities.”

The CIYMS Cricket Club is looking forward to ongoing opportunities to engage with the programme and hope that their example may lead other clubs and sporting bodies to get involved in social inclusion initiatives across Northern Ireland.


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