Video: Ryan McBride family 'immensely proud' as Celtic legends get set for Soccer Sixes event in Derry
RYAN McBride's father, Lexie says it gives his family 'immense pride' to know that his son continues to make such an impact on people in Derry and beyond as he looks forward to celebrating the former Derry City skipper's life at the Ryan McBride Soccer Sixes event at Brandywell on Sunday.
The Brandywell man died suddenly on March 19th, 2017, aged just 27, turning the McBride family's lives upside down, however, the Foundation set up in his name has helped them find a purpose and a way to cope with their immeasurable grief.
Ryan's father and sisters, Coleen, Caitlin and Siuinin, his partner, Mairead and brother-in-law, Gareth McCay set up the Foundation to keep his memory alive, celebrate his life and create a lasting legacy.
And they have certainly done him proud over the last couple of years. Indeed, this year has been another phenomenal year for the Ryan McBride Foundation as they have engaged with thousands of children on a cross-community basis through its primary schools coaching programme funded by NI Community Fund, 'Football For A Fiver' camps, underage tournaments, 'A Day For Ryan' on the streets of Brandywell and family fun days.
The Foundation has also donated football boots, footballs and Foundation tops to Christmas appeals, created coaching qualifications and opportunities for young people and held a gambling awareness event with former Armagh All-Star, Oisin McConville. They have also purchased a bed for the parents of sick children at Altnagelvin Hospital.
The Foundation's 'Second Chance' programme reached out to young adults who had been left behind by sport or the education system and provided coaching, mentoring and a platform to start again.
Of course a major coup in creating a legacy for Ryan was the successful proposal by the Foundation to name Brandywell Stadium after the Brandywell native - a 'massive beacon of pride for the McBride family, the Brandywell community and a huge beacon of hope for our young people'.
"It gives us immense pride to know Ryan has made such an impact on so many people during his time here," said Lexie. "His passion for Derry City and his drive to succeed served as a great catalyst for Ryan to propel himself from Junior Football to the captain of Derry City in a short space of time.
"Such was his love for the club and its fans that he turned down lucrative opportunities elsewhere and it is fitting that the stadium now bears his name. The values of respect, hard work, resilience and perseverance were evident in all that Ryan did and especially through his pathway to representing Derry City and becoming club captain.
"The Ryan McBride Foundation now promote these values in local young people by using sport as a tool for engagement. We hope that by instilling these values we will help other local young people achieve their dreams, whatever they may be, just like Ryan did.
"The Foundation has engaged with thousands of children in the past two years and it continues to go from strength to strength. Sunday's Soccer Sixes is another part of that journey as the money raised will go straight to the Foundation’s programs."
And the Foundation have lots of other upcoming activities planned to keep Ryan's memory alive in the city.
"In August we will work on a cross community project with Lincoln Courts Community Centre which is part funded by the Irish government and TBUC. The project involves a three day residential at Coleraine University where 30 young people from a Nationalist background and 30 young people from a Unionist background will train together, eat together and socialise together.
"So we would like to thank everyone who has supported us during the past two years and everyone who turns out on Sunday at the Soccer Sixes and Gala Ball. will have contributed to the ongoing work of the Foundation.
The Soccer Sixes event on Sunday promises to a magnificent afternoon with a star studded Celtic team arriving on Foyleside. The Hoops team includes legends like Stiliyan Petrov who played for Celtic for seven seasons where he made 228 appearances winning four SPL titles, three Scottish Cups, four league Cups and reached the final of the UEFA Cup in 2003. The Bulgarian will play alongside the 'Derry Pele', Paddy McCourt, goalkeeper, Rab Douglas, Jackie McNamara, Tom Boyd, Alan Stubbs, Mark Wilson, Simon Donnell and Mark Burchill.
The League of Ireland select includes Aaron Shanahan, Alan McNally, Conor Powell, Stephen O'Donnell, Daire Doyle, Killian Brennan, Gary McCabe, Joe Gamble, Joseph N'Do, and Declan O'Brien.
Derry City will be represented by Dermot O'Neill, Eddie McCallion, Peter Hutton, Barry Molloy, Gareth McGlynn, Ruaidhri Higgins, Gary Beckett, Kevin McHugh, Stephen O'Flynn and Kevin Deery.
Get your tickets at https://mcbride5foundation.com/soccer-sixes/ or at ONeills at Waterloo Place