The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is working with Arsenal FC to bring together children from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds through the medium of football, with team building and cultural awareness at the core of its Goal for Peace initiative.
Being run in the county of Leitrim, in the north-west of the Republic of Ireland, the joint initiative between the FAI and Leitrim County Council involves about 160 local children and recently established a link with Arsenal as three coaches from the English club's award-winning community department came to Leitrim to deliver an education workshop on diversity, including fun-based activities on the pitch. The visit also enabled Leitrim clubs to learn more about the work Arsenal do within their community, while the coaches gave a training session demonstration.
"The Goal for Peace project is very similar to a number of projects Arsenal roll out in the UK and across the world. We are delighted to be in Ireland and to get a chance to work with the children in this unique project," said Arsenal's Jack Ironside.
The scheme operates with two main strands to promote community development, social inclusion and club development – namely, a schools involvement programme and a club involvement programme. The schools element sees ten participating schools engaged in various sessions over the school term, with activities such as "peace games", the design of logos and T-shirts, and working on ways of promoting the local football club.
Meanwhile, the club development aspect looks at providing assistance to four football clubs and other minority sports teams that are interested in promoting the message of peace building and integration. Workshops are held on subjects such as club management, coaching, volunteer education, financial management and developing links with local schools.
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