Twenty-seven young people from across Ulster GAA, Irish FA and Ulster Rugby participated in a Multi-Sports Youth Forum this week.
The forum took place at Midgley Park in Belfast and was an opportunity for young sports volunteers to come together to discuss key issues affecting sport and the role of young people in sport.
Supported by Department for Communities, the young people from clubs across Ulster gathered to consider issues relating to communication, mental health and the opportunities and challenges for the three main sports to work together.
The forum explored new and innovative communication tools used by young people to consider if some of the latest social media platforms were suitable for sports clubs to use to connect with its young members.
The young volunteers also explored the impact of sport in mental health and wellbeing and considered what more needs to be done by sports clubs to support its members struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Looking at the Public Health Agency’s ‘Take Five’ steps to improving mental wellbeing, the young people appreciated the role of sport in improving physical health and providing a positive social outlet for people which is crucial for good mental wellbeing; they also identified ways sports clubs and Governing Bodies could play a role to offer help and support to those who need it.
Finally, the young people tackled the current big issues in sport including the Casement Park Project, EURO 2028 and the recent Ulster Rugby game held at Kingspan Breffni in Cavan. Highlighting the positive role sport plays in breaking down barriers and building peace and reconciliation here, the young people also looked at the challenges of sport working together. The participants expressed their desire to learn more about each sport and showed a willingness to get involved in further multi-sports events and projects, proving that the younger generation can and are affecting change here.
Following the successful Multi Sports Youth Forum, the young participants and their parents/guardians were welcomed into Windsor Park for the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifier NI v Slovenia match. For many, this was their first-ever experience at an NI soccer game, and it was heartening to see the young people mix together and enjoy the match together, highlighting the power of sport.