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Friday 29 Mar 2019
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill and record cap holder Pat Jennings launch McDonald’s Fun Football programme sessions

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill today invited parents from across Northern Ireland to sign up for one McDonald’s Fun Football sessions, designed to introduce thousands of children to football for the first time. 

To kick off McDonald’s free Fun Football sessions, McDonald’s and The Irish FA have teamed up with goalkeeping legend Pat Jennings and international manager Michael O’Neill, who has guided the Northern Ireland team to successive victories in their recent Euro qualifying campaign matches.

Children from Fane Street Primary School attended the launch, participating in a series of drills and small sided games alongside stakeholders and the media who were put through their paces by Michael O’Neill, gaining a first-hand exclusive insight into the programme sessions.

The free sessions are designed to introduce thousands of children, aged 5-11, regardless of gender or disability to football for the first time and are part of the overall Fun Football programme which will see 250,000 hours of coaching, games and fun delivered to more than 75,000 children from across Northern Ireland.

The programme is a core pillar of the McDonald’s four-year partnership with UK Football Associations and will deliver 5 million hours of fun, inclusivity, introductory coaching sessions and family events to local communities, reaching 500,000 children across the UK.

Michael O’Neill spoke about the launch of McDonald’s Fun Football programme: “McDonald’s has played a crucial role in supporting grassroots football for seventeen years now, and these Fun Football sessions further reinforce their commitment in this area.  

"I am proud to be involved in this programme which will deliver increased inclusivity and footballing opportunities for children to enjoy the game across the country. 

"I would actively encourage parents whose children are not associated with a local football club to get involved and try out the new programme, and with more than 700 free football sessions for 5-11-year olds happening over the next month across the UK, now is a great time to get involved.

"As a father myself, I know how important it is to encourage a lifelong love of sport and an active lifestyle. Through the McDonald’s Fun Football programme, we want to provide over 5 million hours of football for children, introducing more than half a million new players across the UK to the game by 2022. I hope the coaches and children have enjoyed today as much as I have!”

McDonald’s is now the longest-standing supporter of grassroots football across the UK, with 2019 marking 17 years in partnership.

Through ‘turn up and play’ coaching sessions and more Fun Football Festivals than ever before, McDonald’s will provide children with the opportunity to try football for the first time. 

These free-to-play events are available in all four UK nations and will provide over 700 free football sessions for children aged 5-11 ahead of the summer, encouraging the next generation to try the UK’s favourite game. 

McDonald’s Football Ambassador and Northern Ireland record cap holder Pat Jennings added: “It is a great honour to work with McDonald’s and the IFA to bring footballing opportunities to thousands of children across Northern Ireland.

Fun Football is another hugely positive boost for the local grassroots game and I’m delighted to be involved in this initiative which is integral to the overall partnership between McDonald’s and the IFA.

Inclusivity is at the heart of all McDonald’s football programmes and Fun Football will really deliver upon this vision for the next few years.”

For further information on McDonald’s involvement in grassroots football and to find out how your club could benefit visit or follow @FunFootballUK on Twitter and Instagram.