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Academy North launched – a cross community sports programme for North Belfast

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, today launched the New Academy North programme at the Lansdowne Court Hotel.

Academy North is a pilot Soccer Apprenticeship programme. Cliftonville and Crusaders Football Clubs, together with North City Training, a member of Bryson Charitable Group, have developed this new sports and educational training programme through the Department’s Training for Success provision.

The Minister commended those involved in the new programme: “This initiative is the culmination of a lot of effort and co-operation between North City Training and Cliftonville and Crusaders Football Clubs. I recognise that it takes dedication and careful preparation to pull together a programme such as this.”

The Minister also acknowledged its cross community element and added: “Northern Ireland remains a deeply divided society in some areas. The causes of this division are rooted in history and reflect the differences in religion, politics and culture, as well as the social and economic experiences of the two main communities.

"However, it is programmes like this that are making such a contribution to addressing these problems in our community. Healing the division has been and remains at the centre of the Assembly's policy and requires action across a wide range of political, cultural, and socio-economic programmes. Academy North will bring a much valued contribution to this healing process.”

The Minister also praised the contribution made by the football clubs: “The efforts of Crusaders and Cliftonville Football Clubs in their work within the local community and schools has done much to contribute to good community relations within North Belfast. I appreciate that this involved many years of hard work and I’ve no doubt that your endeavours will lead to lasting relationships.”

The Minister highlighted the benefits to the young people, and said “Sport has an important role to play in offering young people an opportunity to undertake exercise, to have fun and to follow a healthy lifestyle. It also provides an opportunity to build bridges across communities and for young people to meet. I congratulate the young people here today in recognising this great opportunity. I encourage you to pursue your training with enthusiasm, vigour and dedication.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department for Employment and Learning’s Training for Success provision is targeted at young school leavers. Its aim is to increase the employability skills of young people through the provision of Essential Skills training, vocationally relevant qualifications and personal development programmes.
  2. This sports programme is also sponsored by IFA Football for All Community Relations Department, Belfast City Council Good Relations Department and the General, Municipal and Boilermakers’ (GMB) Trade Union.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Employment and Learning Communications Branch on 028 9025 7872. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned