Members William Redpath & Michael Harvey travelled up to The Hammer pitches on the Shankill Road on Thursday night to meet with Paul and James from North United as part of #onesmallstep.
North United are a new football team which is attempting to provide a unique sporting experience for the young men of the Ardoyne, Oldpark, Shankill road and Monkstown.
Michael had the initial idea of reaching out to the club after seeing a lot of content on social media, being from the area but it was great on arrival to receive such a warm welcome from the coaches and the players & hear about some of the work they are doing.
Paul and James enjoyed telling us about some of the players who thought nothing about walking past peace walls and through different communities in their club tracksuit to participate in training or play on a Saturday. It was especially interesting to hear how normal that these young men found that – perhaps contradicting what we often see presented in local media.
They went on to explain how the vision of the club was ambitious on and off the pitch. On the pitch they are competing well with over 60 men registered and 2 teams running out on a Saturday (2nds currently top of the league!), while off the pitch the badge and name itself ‘North United’ symbolise how the leadership team want to try and bring together what is traditionally a divided part of the city.
We also listened with great interest about some of the positive mental health benefits that some of the young men experienced by being part of the team. Mental health in working class parts of Belfast is an enormous issue and often one which there are obvious taboos around, particularly with young men – so it was awesome to hear that the coaches encouraged a positive conversation around the topic within the club, even getting hands on themselves when they needed to with the guys.
We really enjoyed our visit to the club and were very grateful to get introduced to Paul and James before training. JCI Belfast are contributing to the #onesmallstep campaign which attempts to encourage, highlight and challenge conversations around peace building in Northern Ireland. Once again it was great to see that there are so many organisations around our city which are flying under the radar when it comes to peace building and we are delighted to be able to highlight their amazing work.
JCI Belfast is a leadership organisation for young people which provides young people aged 18 – 40 with opportunities to develop those skills via our training, networking, community, business and international projects.
Categorised in: Community
This post was written by Ryan Sheppard Sheppard