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Monday 01 Feb 2021
Online workshops for schools and groups tap in to Irish Football Association’s rich history

Above: Jemma Thornbury, the Irish FA’s Commercial Events Officer, gives a virtual tour of the Education and Heritage Centre at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park

The Irish FA’s Education and Heritage Centre is offering virtual heritage workshops to schools and groups as lockdown continues.

The fun online sessions provide an insight into the rich history of the Irish Football Association and Northern Ireland’s contribution to the world of football.

Some of the most interesting stories from the association’s 140-year history are on offer in the workshops as well as a virtual tour of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

Participants can choose from a menu of stories linked to heritage items usually displayed at the Education and Heritage Centre, which is housed in the stadium.

The workshops have evolved from Heritage in a Box roadshows which proved popular with schools across Northern Ireland. They also involved discussions about heritage items.

'Like everyone over the past year we have had to adapt, adapt to how we engage and how we share our heritage'

On the menu in the virtual workshops are: an old pair of football boots – which pave the way for an insight into the early days of the Irish FA; FC Barcelona shirt – a focus on Patrick O’Connell, the man called the ‘saviour’ of one of the world’s most famous club football teams; a rattle – reflections on Northern Ireland’s exploits at the 1958 World Cup and the Battle of Belfast qualifier.

Also on the menu are: replica World Cup trophy – stories from Northern Ireland’s appearances at the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals; David Healy ball – remembering the famous win over England back in September 2005; Old jersey – a look at past Northern Ireland players and, finally, a Euro 2016 flag, which helps to spark memories of the big adventure in France.

Above: The Education and Heritage Centre at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park is closed due the current Covid-19 lockdown (archive image)

Jemma Thornbury, the Irish FA’s Commercial Events Officer, explained: “Like everyone over the past year we have had to adapt, adapt to how we engage and how we share our heritage. 

“The Heritage in a Box project was used as a schools roadshow, so it was already mobile and perfect to take online. By familiarising myself with new technologies I am now able to be in the classroom without leaving my own living room.

“Prezi, Zoom and Microsoft Teams have all proven very useful and something I quickly had to become an expert in.”

Although not quite the same as a visit to the stadium, the 45-minute sessions are informative and engaging, offering an opportunity to forget current restrictions and immerse yourself in the beautiful game.

Sessions are usually run on Zoom or MS Teams. For further information on the cost of the workshops for schools/groups and how to book contact