McDonald’s and the Irish FA have hosted a special Fun Football Festival at Beragh Swifts Football Club near Omagh.
The festival, which was free and open to all across the Omagh area, featured a series of Fun Football activities, games and inflatables that were enjoyed by children and families.
McDonald’s Fun Football is designed to be fun, friendly and accessible to children of all ages and abilities and no prior experience of playing football is required.
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 recently doubling the size of its Fun Football programme.
David Walker, Franchisee of McDonald’s Omagh restaurant, said: “McDonald’s is passionate about feeding and fostering communities and supporting local families, be that by offering free Fun Football coaching sessions across the year or organising events like this festival. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces was the highlight of the day.”
Irish FA First Deputy President Neil Jardine said: “The Irish FA and McDonald’s were proud to partner with Beragh Swifts Football Club to host this Fun Football festival for children and young people in the Omagh area.
"The Irish FA has worked closely with Beragh Swifts and other clubs and organisations from across the community to support volunteers and youth football teams in response to the attack on coach John Caldwell and will continue to promote, foster and develop grassroots football for all in Omagh.”
Northern Ireland senior women’s team captain Marissa Callaghan, who is a Girls’ Participation Officer with the Irish FA, also attended the event.
She said it was crucial to encourage children of all backgrounds and abilities to get involved in grassroots football and sport in general.
“It’s great to see a large organisation like McDonald’s backing grassroots football locally, and the work it is doing along with the Irish FA Foundation and Irish FA in communities across Northern Ireland is really brilliant to see,” she added.
“Programmes like this provide an outlet and an environment that allows kids to express themselves and, more importantly, have fun. It also promotes exercise and the importance of being active.”
Speaking after the event, Vice Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Ann-Marie Donnelly, said: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to attend the McDonald’s and Irish FA Fun Football Festival held at Beragh Swifts Football Club.
“It was great to see so many children participate in and enjoy the variety of activities and inflatable games which were on offer. This kind of event not only provides fun but also helps to encourage our children and young people to be active and can contribute to positive mental health and wellbeing.
“I would like to thank McDonald’s and the Irish FA for bringing the festival to the rural village in West Tyrone for the benefit of our residents locally.”
Between now and 2026 McDonald’s will provide over one million five to 11-year-olds across the UK with the opportunity to enjoy free football coaching and will deliver over 10.5 million hours of Fun Football over the course of the new programme, ensuring that ALL children have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful game regardless of their background, gender, ethnicity or physical ability.
McDonald’s has also continued to improve the accessibility of the Fun Football programme through training and the upskilling of its coaches. Together with the Irish FA, McDonald’s has 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.
Meanwhile, McDonald’s and the Irish FA also hosted a Fun Football Festival at Lurgan Town Arena, home of Lurgan Town FC.
The festival, which was free and open to all across the borough, featured a series of Fun Football activities, games and inflatables that were enjoyed by more than 3,000 people.
Main image: At the McDonald’s Fun Football Festival in Beragh were (L-R): (back) Neil Jardine, First Deputy President, Irish Football Association; Artur Izworski, McDonald’s Omagh; Councillor Ann-Marie Donnelly, Vice Chair, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council; Marissa Callaghan, Northern Ireland senior women’s team captain; Orla McGovern, McDonald’s Omagh; Councillor Shirley Hawkes, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and secretary of Beragh Swifts FC; Richard Lyons, chair of Beragh Swifts; and (front) Chloe and Nathan Cochrane from Beragh Swifts.
Above: Pictured (L-R) at the McDonald’s Fun Football Festival in Lurgan is Jahswill Emmanuel (Founder/Chairperson, Multi-Ethnic Sports & Culture NI); Neil Jardine ( Deputy President, Irish FA); John McCollum (Franchisee, McDonald’s Lurgan) and Rita Frost (Franchisee Operations Supervisor, McDonald’s Lurgan) along with children from Lurgan Town FC and Annagh United FC.