‘This event brought young people together whilst exploring issues such as racism, religion & diversity using sport as a tool’

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Football, fish suppers and friendship! Two squads of young fellahs from different sides of the so-called ‘divide’ in Derry and Belfast clearly demonstrated there’s a lot more to unite than separate us during a community relations drive in Strathfoyle recently.

Boys from the Strathfoyle Youth Centre and the ‘Building Bridges’ youth project in Belfast got together to express themselves fluently in the universal language of football in a challenge match in the city.

By all accounts the boys got along like a house on fire.

Strathfoyle Youth Centre won the match 3-1 with Oran Brown scoring a brace for the local side and Jonathan Crean also hitting the back of the net.

Chris McGarrigle, centre manager at the Education Authority’s Strathfoyle Youth Centre, said: “Over the past few weeks the young people have been taking part and engaging in different workshops within their youth centre in Strathfoyle.

“This event was great to bring all these young people together whilst exploring issues such as racism, religion and diversity using sport as a tool.

“It was great to see all the young people building relationships and we are looking forward to visiting Belfast for the return game.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Strathfoyle Community and parents for coming out to support our members and to Sean Whoriskey, from Lisahally FC, for refereeing the match.

“A special thanks to Bridie’s Diner at Strathfoyle for catering for the group after the match.‘

Lance, group leader at the ‘Building Bridges’ group, said: “The boys had a great experience in Derry. A big thank you to Chris and Nadine for the hospitality shown to us.

“The kids have definitely bonded and grown closer. We look forward to welcoming Strathfoyle to Belfast for the return fixture.”

Although Strathfoyle Youth Centre ultimately managed to win the match thanks to the goalscoring heroics of Brown and Crean the real triumph of the day was the cameraderie that was developed between the young people who took part all of whom had a great day and mixed in well with each other, according to Chris and Lance.

The challenge match was part of the Strathfoyle Youth Centre’s ongoing Community Relations Programme for young people aged between eight and 18 years.

The Strathfoyle Youth Centre is a full-time controlled centre, which provides youth provision for primary, junior, intermediate and senior age groups in the wider Enagh area throughout the week.

The boys who took part in this month’s cross-community match against the ‘Building Bridges’ side from Belfast were all aged between 11 and 14, which is one of the centre’s key target groups.

The cenre is located at 13 Deramore Drive, Strathfoyle. Tel: 028 7186 0334.