The Irish FA Foundation’s Stay Onside initiative, which is aimed at diverting young people away from criminal behaviour, is set for further expansion.
Through the programme foundation staff deliver a range of football-related activities with the support of the Department of Justice, PSNI, Northern Ireland Prison Service, Probation Board, Youth Justice Agency and various community groups and charities.
New community programmes have also been commissioned with the success of Stay Onside continuing to grow year on year
It was initially rolled out in Northern Ireland’s custodial centres, however community versions of the scheme have also been successfully delivered.
And Mark Dennison, the Irish FA Foundation’s Stay Onside Liaison Officer, has revealed more is to come.
He explained: “We are planning for the continued delivery of Stay Onside in Hydebank Wood College, HMP Maghaberry and HMP Magilligan when it’s appropriate and safe to do so.
“New community programmes have also been commissioned with the success of Stay Onside continuing to grow year on year.”
Stay Onside enables participants to gain a coaching qualification and improve their communication and presentation skills, and it offers literacy support and mental and physical wellbeing awareness, too.
Last month at Hydebank Wood College in south Belfast the foundation’s Disability Football Development Manager, Alan Crooks, delivered a session on coaching disabled footballers, while Girls Participation Officer Clare Carson demonstrated a practical coaching session. And Stay Onside Officers also delivered classroom work.
Among the other activities on the programme is a racism awareness and equality course run by the foundation’s Community Relations Officer, Chris Wright.
All versions of Stay Onside are presently on hold in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
At present no affiliated football is being played in Northern Ireland until 30 April, however that restart date is subject to a review of the situation.