More than 200 boys and girls from ten primary schools in Northern Ireland have taken part in the Irish Football Association (IFA) national football festival in County Londonderry – part of the IFA's drive to get more youngsters playing the game.
Legendary Northern Irish goalkeeper Pat Jennings attended the event at the Meadowbank Sports Arena in Magherafelt, in his role as head of the IFA's school curriculum coaching programme. The scheme, sponsored by McDonald's, has involved over 4,000 children throughout the country this year.
"The national festival is always a special occasion," said Jennings. "I was delighted to be able to attend and witness first hand the benefits that the McDonald's partnership with the IFA is bringing grassroots football in Magherafelt and indeed across Northern Ireland.
"Our festival programme is an excellent way to encourage more children to enjoy playing football. There are so many benefits and reasons for young people to embrace and become involved in sport and through the McDonald's programme I am delighted to be involved in an initiative which is working to deliver more football for all."
Since 2002 the IFA's alliance with McDonald's has helped create more than 500 grassroots coaches, who have given qualified coaching to thousands of Northern Irish children. Local clubs are also gaining from the project through the provision of free equipment, the availability of places on coaching courses and having qualified McDonald's-IFA coaches lead club training sessions.
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