In the build-up to this year’s UEFA Super Cup in Belfast, the Irish FA has been taking the trophy out on the road to promote the match, the beautiful game and the wider work of the association.
Chris Wright took on the role of trophy tour manager alongside his normal job as the Community Relations Officer with the Irish FA Foundation.
“The trophy tour experience has been a truly rewarding one for all. It has been a resounding success,” he said.
The Super Cup is, of course, contested each summer by the winners of the previous season’s UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
And when the trophy tour was launched in June the Super Cup was joined by the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League trophies lifted by Chelsea and Villarreal respectively back in May.
However, when the Super Cup roadshow began the ‘cousins’ were put on display at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park - it is hosting the match next week - as the Super Cup trophy took centre stage at various events.
Chris explained: “During planning we wanted to deliver not just the trophy to events but a full experience. This developed into us bringing fully branded UEFA Super Cup inflatables to events alongside the trophy, enabling children and the young at heart to enjoy something unique when the trophy came to town.”
The tour was launched at Christ the Redeemer Primary School in Dunmurry to much fanfare and from there Chris and his team of volunteers were able to bring the trophy to academies, clubs and Irish FA Foundation summer camps in particular.
The roadshow has visited camps at 14 venues across the foundation’s 12 community hubs in Northern Ireland, covering every council area.
Chris and his team of enthusiastic volunteers have been able to bring the full trophy tour experience to more than 1500 young players to date, offering a fun experience in addition to the already packed summer camp schedules.
The final stop on the tour is today – at V36 beside Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey where more than 150 kids will get to see the trophy.
Chris said it had been a privilege to lead on and deliver the UEFA Super Cup trophy tour experience.
And he added: “To witness the excitement the trophy brings to young players is truly a pleasure. From early planning meetings to the full delivery has been a fantastic journey and to finally see the full experience - inflatables and trophy - bringing so much joy to members of all communities, coming together to play football, brings me great pride, especially as Community Relations Officer.
“This would not have been possible without the amazing volunteer co-ordinators team, who worked tirelessly over five weeks to ensure every young person and every community received the best experience possible.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed and we were proud to deliver the UEFA Super Cup trophy tour experience to as many people as possible. And, now, we are all looking forward to seeing the same trophy being lifted high by the winning captain at the National Football Stadium on 11 August.”
And some of the volunteers who helped with the tour have also really enjoyed the experience.
Christine McCarron said: “It was excellent, a brilliant experience. It was great to be able to inspire the young people.”
And Michael Holden pointed out: “Getting to assist football to reach such a wide variety of young people was truly amazing.”
Brenda Houston said it was great to see the kids having fun and making new friends at the camps, especially as they have missed out on so much during the Covid pandemic.
“It was a wonderful experience being part of a great, diverse volunteer team. It’s been a pleasure and such fun,” she added.
Graeme Campbell said seeing a major trophy would provide great memories for the children: “When they see their heroes lifting it, having won it, they can say they have seen the Super Cup and stood next to it.”