COMMONWEALTH BOXING medallist, Sean McGlinchey and a host of high profile sports stars have thrown their weight behind a new sporting initiative set up to help battle against suicide in Derry.
The ‘Sports Against Suicide’ programme is fronted by Creggan heavyweight, McGlinchey, who won bronze at last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
And he’s managed to enlist the support of Republic of Ireland winger, James McClean and new Celtic signing, Michael Duffy as they attempt to raise awareness and help those charities at the frontline of the fight against mental illness in the city
IBF World super bantamweight champion, Carl Frampton, Irish middleweight champion, Eamonn O’Kane and former world title contender and European titlist, Paul McCloskey, amongst others, have also promised to lend their support to the campaign which is set to benefit three Derry charities.
It’s hoped the ‘Sports Against Suicide’ programme, will raise vital funds for Foyle Search and Rescue, Zest and Calms Stress Management through various sporting activities held throughout the city in the coming months.
The first of which will be a charity boxing event held at the Guildhall on April 25th next.
The Fight Night will be preceded by an information evening and dinner at the Maldron Hotel with entertainment, prizes and guest speakers on the night. Once again, all proceeds will go towards the three charities.
Sports teams, clubs, gyms and bootcamps are also being urged to organise their own sporting events under the ‘Sports Against Suicide’ banner in an attempt to combat the alarming suicide rate in the city.
McGlinchey is working closely with Unite Community Membership chairperson, Dee Robinson and Cllr, Dee Quigley who has been directly affected by suicide, as they attempt to tackle what is fast becoming a huge problem.
And the local amateur boxer explains why he thinks sport and exercise is the best way to help those who are suffering from mental illness and perhaps help prevent suicide.
“Suicide is obviously a big issue in Derry,” said McGlinchey.
“I’ve found out through my life experiences and through listening to people who are affected by depression that sport can help.
“Sport can bring everybody together from all communities. We’re hoping that everyone in Derry can join in and help the battle against suicide. We’re hoping to show those young people who are going through hard times that they can join a gym, a boxing club, football club, rugby, whatever and see if it can help.
“James McClean, Eamonn O’Kane. Paul McCloskey and Carl Frampton have all promised to lend their support in any way they can.”
Mr. Robinson from Unite, explains that not only is the ‘Sports Against Suicide’ programme aimed at getting young people who suffer from mental illness involved in sport, but it will also benefit three organisations that provide invaluable service for the people of Derry.
“Sport can be great for those suffering from depression,” added Robinson. “So this is about getting the message across. It’s about getting more people involved in sports but it’s also about bringing the sports community together to raise funds for these organisations.
“These three charities are almost standing on their own so the community has to come together and make sure they stay around. Imagine what this town would be like if these organisations weren’t here.
“The River Foyle has taken enough people,” he continued. “Foyle Search and Rescue are the end of the line service for people in need. Calms and Zest are great organisations as well and there’s a lot of people who could have ended up meeting Foyle Search and Rescue if it hadn’t have been for the likes of Calms and Zest and similar organisations.
“So it’s to encourage involvement in sport but it’s also to help these vital services as well.”
Councillor Dee Quigley, who lost his 19 year-old nephew to suicide last year, is also backing the event and he’s called on the people of Derry to show their support for three charities who offer an invaluable service.
“My own family has been directly affected by suicide and Foyle Search and Rescue played a vital role in retrieving the body of my young nephew, Andrew Quigley from the river,” explained Cllr. Quigley.
“So this is an event that’s close to my heart and any money being raised is going towards exceptional causes. These services are vital services for our community and it’s our way to say ‘thank you’ for providing these services and letting them know the people of Derry are behind them 100 per cent.”
Headlining the Fight Night at the Guildhall next April is SDLP Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan and he’s happy to lace up his gloves for such a good cause.
“Everyone is aware of how much Derry has suffered from suicide and the countless families that have suffered.
“I’m delighted to be involved and participate in anything that helps raise funds for these vital organisations.
“I think it’s also vitally important to show young people, and not so young people, out there that there are positive activities they could be taking part in.
“It’s a well established fact that the best thing that anyone can do for their mental and physical well being is to have something to do. That could be a job or a sport or a pastime.
“Boxing is certainly a sport that provides great opportunities for our young people and we should do everything we can to support our sporting fraternity in the city.”
Mr Durkan (1-0-0) has ducked between the ropes for charity in the past and he’s delighted to get the chance to put his perfect record on the line for such a good cause.
“I don’t think I could ever be described as a sports man but I’m certainly a good sport,” he laughed. “I’m willing to put my undefeated record on the line for this good cause. I fought once and won once.
“I don’t know who I’ll be pitted against and if it’s someone that looks in any way dangerous I might get injured from now to then!”
The Fight Night promises to be a highly entertaining evening to get the Sports Against Suicide event up and running next April 25th.
If your club or team are interested in taking part, or if you would like to donate or sponsor a table at the information evening at the Maldron Hotel, please check out the ‘Sports Against Suicide’ Facebook page.