Glasgow Celtic & Rangers Unite To Launch European Culture, Diversity & Sport (& Sportsmanship) Programme

Glasgow was a city divided by two football teams, two beliefs, two religions, two cultures with fierce animosity over the years. However much work has been done by open-minded people from both sides to unite youngsters and rid us of  out-dated bigotry.

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Rangers, Ally Dawson & Celtic’s David Hay hold the Great Moments Of Sportsmanship book above the Great Hall, Stormont, Belfast.

People like former professional footballers Ally Dawson, Rangers (left) and David Hay, Celtic (right) work relentlessly towards giving the next generation an open mind and optimism for a better world, through the medium of football. They both travelled to Belfast to launch the Culture, Diversity In and Through Sport manual which in rolls out to four countries and son, 28 European countries. The Great Sportsmanship Programme created one of the modules in this European STEMS project (Supporting the Transfer of Education and Mobility Strategies).

So I was also delighted to travel and speak at this innovative and inspirational launch in Stormont, Government Buildings, Belfast.

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Here’s the picture story of a truly great day. Starting with the early morning first London-Belfast flight.

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On a beautiful bright and crisp autumnal morning, here’s the first sighting of  Ireland, County Antrim and Belfast City in the distance.

 

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The Waterfront Hall and the famous Harland & Wolfe cranes at Belfast Docks (where the Titanic was built).

 

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Stormont Government Buildings, Belfast. I had the pleasure of walking every step up the beautiful avenue, up the hill, where these days, joggers jog this scenic route and passing cars drive graciously around photographers standing in the middle of the avenue.

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It really is an impressive building set in a wonderful landscape.

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With a great view of Belfast City and the surrounding countryside

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And then into the Great Hall, where Northern Ireland’s beloved footballing legend, George Best, RIP, was laid out for all the people to pay their respect and say their last farewell to the great man.

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                     Ally Dawson (Rangers)  & David Hay (Celtic)

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Following speeches by Robin Swan (MLA), Mary McIvor (Dept. For Employment & Learning), John Quinn (Southern Regional College), the Glasgow Alliance of  Ally and David’s joint presentation inspired the audience – their very  presence, working together, inspiring a new generation of kids in Glasgow and now spreading their work across Europe. Having trained and played football at the highest level, these two set the mark for a great day.

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Ally & David                      PR Smith             Ken McHugh (SARI) & me

It was difficult to match Ally & David’s sense of greatness, however here’s an extract from my speech:  “This manual called ‘Cultural Diversity In and Through Sport,’ forms the backbone of an educational programme that we launch today, which is designed, quite simply, to change the world.

“It is a radical learning application bringing a Human Rights based educational tool into the domain of Sport across Europe and beyond.

“It is significant that the lead partner of this enterprising project is the Southern Regional College of Northern Ireland.  Indeed, it’s appropriate that we launch this ‘Diversity and Sport,’ manual here in Belfast….where just up the road from Saintfield, was the birthplace of the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, Francis Hutchinson……..” See Full Speech (thanks to Ken McHugh, SARI, for his help). After this, Brian Doran (CEO Southern Regional College) wrapped up the launch and asked all parties to keep up the momentum.

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A room with a view. After the launch we stepped outside to enjoy the view and I also went back inside to look around.

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The Senate Chamber (photos 1 & 2) & the Assembly Chamber (right)

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After a long day we moved to a different chamber, one of Ireland’s finest pubs, The Crown, where the Victorian papier mache ceilings have been restored to perfection and the cosy snugs create such an intimate atmosphere (our  Scottish, Spanish and Italian colleagues loved it), in fact, the  whole historic pub radiates a wonderful warmth and energy.

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And so it’s farewell to Belfast City as I get the coach back to the airport to catch the last flight back to London. And where else in the world has an airport named after its finest footballing son……..?

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George Best – Belfast City Airport

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9 Responses to Glasgow Celtic & Rangers Unite To Launch European Culture, Diversity & Sport (& Sportsmanship) Programme

  1. Ian Maynard October 16, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    This is the perfect demonstration of how the Great Sportsmanship idea has become much more than a code of conduct, a way to treat each other but is in fact a platform for the much bigger idea of improving lives through sport.

    • prsmith October 16, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Our goal entirely Ian. In fact, I’m told by schools and librarians that our stories from the book are being read by kids that have never read a book in their lives. So we help with literacy, self esteem and nurture an interest in sport. ~ Paul

  2. Frank Loughran October 16, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Totally agree – sport should be compulsory for kids of today – it seems to work over here in US.

    For the record Davy Hay is a hoops legend who broke through into Celtic team early 70s, from Jock Stein’s academy of home grown talent – along with another young man called Kenny Dalglish !!
    - Frank Loughran, Chicago

    • prsmith October 16, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

      Thanks Frank. Dalglish – what a genius – Check out this photo http://tinyurl.com/q5duwh9

      Interestingly both Ally (Dawson) and David (Hay) were in perfect nick (condition). They are in a sense, still top pro’s & great guys. Did you play pro or semi pro yourself Frank?

  3. Tony Healy October 17, 2013 at 6:28 am #

    Great read.. Inspirational

  4. prsmith October 17, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    Cheers Tony. It’s really inspirational when you think that this programme can influence young people across 28 countries for years to come and help create a new generation of global citizens.

  5. martin mullarkey October 17, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Great article and it will inspire young people throughout Europe and beyond as they take to their sporting arenas not only to be sporting to opposition during play but to make the principles of sportsmanship a way of living their lives.

    • prsmith October 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Well said Martin ‘to make the principles of sportsmanship a way of living their lives’….and with a broad perspective ie hopefully becoming global citizens. ~ Paul

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    […] us all. I also quoted it in September in Belfast Stormont Government Building at the launch of a Diversity & Sport programme which has since been adopted by CONCACAF and is rolling out to 24 countries next […]

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