On Tuesday, 26th November, local residents and community representatives joined with children from St Columban’s Primary School and Belleek Primary School in Co. Fermanagh to celebrate the achievements of participants in the Goal for Peace project.
At the event, the pupils were presented with special medals and football kits in recognition of their participation in the project, which integrates children from schools and football clubs from both traditions through the medium of sport, primarily soccer.
Funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Leitrim County Council, Goal for Peace consists of a Schools Involvement strand and a Clubs Involvement strand with the aim of providing an opportunity for children and adults from both traditions to work together by learning sports skills, peace building games and teamwork.
The three-year project has seen almost 200 children take part from ten schools – eight from Leitrim and two from Fermanagh (Columbans Primary School and Belleek Primary School).
The project was designed to enhance cross community dialogue and generate cross border understanding and respect, utilising sport as a medium to promote reconciliation among young people from counties Leitrim and Fermanagh.
The project has two strands ‘the schools programme’ and the ‘soccer club involvement programme’. This is the third year of the ‘Goal for Peace’ project, since the project’s inception the schools and clubs involved have worked closely together to encourage a high level of interaction among children from both traditions.
By providing a safe and fun setting for children to mix with each other, the project has been a great success in helping to bring local children together who might not have interacted before.
· The Hunt National School (Leitrim)
· Gortletteragh National School (Leitrim)
· Masterson National School (Leitrim)
· S. N. Mhic Diarmada National School
· St Mary’s Boys National School (Leitrim)
· Marist Girls National School (Leitrim)
· Newtowngore National School (Leitrim)
· Drumlea National School (Leitrim)
· St Columbans Primary School
· Belleek Controlled Primary School
Gordon Burke, ‘Goal For Peace’ Coordinator, said: “The roll out of the Goal for Peace project has been extremely successful over the past three years.
“Since the project’s commencement the ten schools participating on the project have formed strong links which have helped to encourage a high level of interaction among children from both traditions.
“The project is an excellent example of how sport can be successfully used as an effective instrument to help break down traditional barriers”.
David Graham, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland said: “The Fund is committed to the long-term task of breaking down traditional barriers in order to help build positive relations between cross border communities and counties, that is why we are proud to be associated with this ‘Goal for Peace’ project.
“We believe that by helping to develop closer links between both traditions, the project will have a very positive impact for reconciliation for the future.
“By bringing children from both traditions together in a creative and fun environment, this project has been tremendously successful in fostering greater interaction among pupils in Leitrim and Fermanagh.”
David Graham also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for more than twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Goal for Peace
Goal for Peace is the result of a partnership between the International Fund for Ireland, Leitrim County Development Board and Leitrim County Council and is aimed at promoting community development, social inclusion and club development through the medium of sport.