McDonald’s and the Irish Football Association have launched the new McDonald’s Fun Football programme in Northern Ireland.
The launch of the new programme was celebrated at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park with McDonald’s Fun Football ambassadors hosting some of the many children set to enjoy Fun Football over the next four years.
Leeds United and Northern Ireland star Stuart Dallas and Northern Ireland senior women’s captain Marissa Callaghan were amongst the ambassadors that joined over 100 boys and girls as they participated in the special Fun Football session on the pitch of the iconic National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
Stuart Dallas said that it was hugely important to encourage children of all abilities and backgrounds to play football and be active.
“It’s great to see a brand like McDonald’s backing grassroots football, and the work they are doing along with the Irish FA in communities across Northern Ireland is really brilliant to see,” he said.
Marissa Callaghan added: “We are living through a cost-of-living crisis at the moment, and it is amazing to see opportunities like the McDonald’s Fun Football programme, which is completely free for all, being offered to young people here in Northern Ireland.”
Fun Football will provide over one million 5–11-year-olds with the opportunity to enjoy free football coaching and will deliver over 10.5 million hours of Fun Football over the course of the next four years, making it the largest grassroots participation programme in the UK.
McDonald’s is the longest-standing supporter of grassroots football in the UK, and alongside the Irish FA, Scottish FA, and Football Association of Wales, has made the biggest commitment to grassroots football by doubling the size of its new Fun Football programme.
McDonald’s will continue to improve the accessibility of the Fun Football programme through training and upskilling of coaches in partnership with the Irish FA. Together, they have partnered with local charity Multi-Ethnic Sports and Culture NI to make sure every Fun Football coach is equipped with the knowledge and tools to help create inclusive environments for participants from all communities.
John McCollum, Franchisee at McDonald’s, commented: “Football is at the heart of communities across Northern Ireland, and after over 20 years as a major supporter of the grassroots game, nobody understands that better than McDonald’s.
“We want to increase our commitment to grassroots football to ensure more children, more families and more communities in Northern Ireland can directly benefit from this great game.
“The new Fun Football programme will drive greater access and inclusion, support physical and mental health and above all generate the community spirit that comes from coaching, playing and watching football.”
Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: "Working together with McDonald’s to deliver the Fun Football programme has increased the accessibility to football for children across the country. It is important that everyone has the opportunity to be involved in our game and this programme shows how the sport can break down barriers of participation.
"Our vision is to promote, foster and develop football for all and everyone should have access regardless of age, gender, background, ability or disability. This important programme resonates with that vision."