Grassroots festival with EURO focus

Youngsters in Northern Ireland celebrated UEFA EURO 2012 with a specially-themed event for UEFA Grassroots Day, one of several activities arranged across the country.

UEFA EURO 2012 was the theme of one of the activities for UEFA Grassroots Day in Northern Ireland
UEFA EURO 2012 was the theme of one of the activities for UEFA Grassroots Day in Northern Ireland ©IFA

As part of the celebrations to mark UEFA Grassroots Day that took place across Europe in May, the Irish Football Association (IFA) held a number of Grassroots Festival Days organised by their primary schools coaching team all over the country.

UEFA EURO 2012 was the theme of one such event in the Londonderry and Strabane area where the IFA, in partnership with Holy Cross College, brought 120 children from schools throughout the Strabane District Council together to celebrate UEFA Grassroots Day. With skills stations and small-sided matches, the event allowed children involved in the DENI Curriculum Sports Programme to showcase fundamental movement skills which they have developed throughout the year.

IFA primary school coach Steafan Deery said: "The theme for the day was the European Championship and children represented various countries participating in the tournament. A-Level students from Holy Cross excellently mentored the children throughout the day alongside IFA primary school coaches from the region.

"Everyone that attended received a certificate for taking part and the two winning teams won a UEFA ball each. The morning helped promote UEFA Grassroots Day and many of the objectives from the Curriculum Sports Programme, promoting lifelong participation through fun activities and empowering children with the fundamental movement skills to take part in sport."

Another event brought over 90 children from Donacloney, Clare and Moyallon Primary Schools together to enjoy a 'fun day' of skills and matches. Primary school coach Kris Lindsay said: "The children forged new friendships, developed their skills and most importantly enjoyed the beautiful game in a fun-filled, non-pressurised environment with the emphasis being on enjoyment rather than winning.

"The children all had a fantastic day with everyone receiving certificates, pencils and rubbers, and six lucky players receiving a football and water bottle as reward for showing good skill and teamwork throughout the day."

On top of the festival days, the week also featured the Northern Ireland Schools FA Primary Schools Finals, culminating in a small-sided games trial day with some of the top junior clubs in the country.