The Irish FA Foundation will be officially rolling out 12 new Football Community Hubs across Northern Ireland in the coming months.
The hubs - two in Belfast and 10 in the council areas outside Belfast - have been created to provide a greater focus on club and volunteer development and on boosting participation levels in line with the Irish FA’s Let Them Play youth football strategy.
Each hub is designed to deliver a football for all service to the community using football as a hook for health, education, crime prevention, good relations and employability.
A Regional Grassroots Football Developer, a Let Them Play Officer, Football For All support staff and a UEFA Grassroots Volunteer will be based in each of the 12 centres.
Michael Boyd, Director of Football Development, Irish FA Foundation, said: “Our strength lies in the ability of our staff and volunteers to serve the needs of the community through the universal language of football. Our approach is to work with the councils and our community partners to help create healthier citizens and communities.
“It’s all about providing a better service, supporting stronger inclusive clubs and creating more partnerships on the ground in the various council areas, and I thank the councils for their ongoing support.”
The Irish FA Foundation is central to the Irish FA’s mission to help promote, foster and develop football for all in Northern Ireland. The foundation team strives to deliver football for all by making the game more fun, safe and inclusive.
It was set up in December 2016 and since then has doubled youth participation numbers, working with more than 70,000 young people on a regular basis implementing the Irish FA’s Let Them Play youth strategy with its community partners.
The foundation, which aims to have 100,000 young people between the ages of four and 24 playing football regularly by 2025, also delivers the award-winning Stay Onside crime prevention project and the IFA Schools Quality Mark accreditation scheme.
IFA Small Sided Games Development Centres, the Shooting Stars girls’ programme, Disability Football For All, the People and Clubs grassroots programme and the Ahead of the Game mental health initiative are among the other projects it delivers.
The first Football Community Hub to be officially launched will be the centre covering the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area. The launch is due to be held at the Lough Moss Centre in Carryduff on Monday (2 March).