Today I attended the official launch of the Old Firm Alliance programme at the Ozone Leisure complex at Ormeau Embankment in Belfast.
The programme was organised by the Belfast Community Sports Development Network, which is headed y Peter Shaw, in cooperation with Rangers Football Club and Celtic Football Club, through the Old Firm Alliance.
The cross-community programme, which is funded by the IFI, is a cross-community initiative that uses sport to deliver engagement between nationalist and unionist communities. It targets young people in communities most impacted by the troubles through two strands of work - a schools-based project and a community-based project. The current initiative is based on similar programmes in Glasgow, which have proven highly successful in challenging attitudes among children and young people.
Nearly 3,000 young people, at primary and post-primary schools across Belfast will take part in the three-year programme. The children get enjoyment and an opportunity to improve their football skills. They also learn about sport and health, about working with others and about difference and diversity.
There is strong support in Ulster for the two Scottish teams - Rangers and Celtic - and this is undoubtedly part of the appeal of the programme.