Glasgow was a city divided by two football teams, two beliefs, two religions, two cultures with fierce animosity over the years. However much work has been done by open-minded people from both sides to unite youngsters and rid us of out-dated bigotry.
Rangers, Ally Dawson & Celtic’s David Hay hold the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship book above the Great Hall, Stormont, Belfast.
People like former professional footballers Ally Dawson, Rangers (left) and David Hay, Celtic (right) work relentlessly towards giving the next generation an open mind and optimism for a better world, through the medium of football. They both travelled to Belfast to launch the Culture, Diversity In and Through Sport manual which in rolls out to four countries and son, 28 European countries. The Great Sportsmanship Programme created one of the modules in this European STEMS project (Supporting the Transfer of Education and Mobility Strategies).
So I was also delighted to travel and speak at this innovative and inspirational launch in Stormont, Government Buildings, Belfast.
Here’s the picture story of a truly great day. Starting with the early morning first London-Belfast flight.
On a beautiful bright and crisp autumnal morning, here’s the first sighting of Ireland, County Antrim and Belfast City in the distance.
The Waterfront Hall and the famous Harland & Wolfe cranes at Belfast Docks (where the Titanic was built).
Stormont Government Buildings, Belfast. I had the pleasure of walking every step up the beautiful avenue, up the hill, where these days, joggers jog this scenic route and passing cars drive graciously around photographers standing in the middle of the avenue.
It really is an impressive building set in a wonderful landscape.
With a great view of Belfast City and the surrounding countryside
And then into the Great Hall, where Northern Ireland’s beloved footballing legend, George Best, RIP, was laid out for all the people to pay their respect and say their last farewell to the great man.
Ally Dawson (Rangers) & David Hay (Celtic)
Following speeches by Robin Swan (MLA), Mary McIvor (Dept. For Employment & Learning), John Quinn (Southern Regional College), the Glasgow Alliance of Ally and David’s joint presentation inspired the audience – their very presence, working together, inspiring a new generation of kids in Glasgow and now spreading their work across Europe. Having trained and played football at the highest level, these two set the mark for a great day.
Ally & David PR Smith Ken McHugh (SARI) & me
It was difficult to match Ally & David’s sense of greatness, however here’s an extract from my speech: “This manual called ‘Cultural Diversity In and Through Sport,’ forms the backbone of an educational programme that we launch today, which is designed, quite simply, to change the world.
“It is a radical learning application bringing a Human Rights based educational tool into the domain of Sport across Europe and beyond.
“It is significant that the lead partner of this enterprising project is the Southern Regional College of Northern Ireland. Indeed, it’s appropriate that we launch this ‘Diversity and Sport,’ manual here in Belfast….where just up the road from Saintfield, was the birthplace of the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Hutchinson……..” See Full Speech (thanks to Ken McHugh, SARI, for his help). After this, Brian Doran (CEO Southern Regional College) wrapped up the launch and asked all parties to keep up the momentum.
A room with a view. After the launch we stepped outside to enjoy the view and I also went back inside to look around.
The Senate Chamber (photos 1 & 2) & the Assembly Chamber (right)
After a long day we moved to a different chamber, one of Ireland’s finest pubs, The Crown, where the Victorian papier mache ceilings have been restored to perfection and the cosy snugs create such an intimate atmosphere (our Scottish, Spanish and Italian colleagues loved it), in fact, the whole historic pub radiates a wonderful warmth and energy.
And so it’s farewell to Belfast City as I get the coach back to the airport to catch the last flight back to London. And where else in the world has an airport named after its finest footballing son……..?
George Best – Belfast City Airport