New UK/Ireland initiative 'Football Without Frontiers'05 February 2008

International legends Bryan Hamilton, Ian Rush, Craig Brown, Brian Kerr and Graham Taylor will be in Belfast next month for the Football Without Frontiers – “Community Champions” conference, sponsored by Belfast City Council, being held at Grosvenor House on Friday 7th March.

In June 2007 FWF was launched at Parliament Buildings in Belfast. FWF is a UK and Ireland wide body combining the efforts of organisations committed to using the sport of football as the hook to tackle both sectarianism and racism. FWF includes representatives from Kick it Out, Football Unites Racism Divides, Sport Against Racism Ireland, the Irish FA’s Football For All Campaign and Football For All (Scotland).

FWF brings together the expertise of people who have worked tirelessly over the last ten to fifteen years to challenge racism, bigotry and sectarianism in the sport of football across the UK and Ireland. The FWF body enables these people to network, share their considerable experience and develop new ideas to help combat racism and sectarianism, using the sport of football to promote positive Community Relations.

In September 2007 the FWF working group met at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground to discuss the possibility of holding a FWF conference in 2008. The group decided to use the conference to celebrate Community Champions, giving volunteers who have made a meaningful difference in their community – using football as the hook to tackle racism and sectarianism – a platform to share their story and inspire others. The FWF working body felt that it would add significantly to the conference if former international managers and football legends were invited to introduce the Community Champion from their country. The feeling was that this would give the Community Champion well deserved recognition and add significant media interest to the event, raising awareness of the great work carried out by Volunteers using the sport of football across the UK and Ireland.

The FWF Community Champions conference is being held in Belfast at Grosvenor House on Friday March 7, from 9am-2pm. In addition to the international legends (who will introduce their country’s Community Champion) there will be a number of guest speakers including IFA Football For All Ambassador, Radio One DJ and TV Presenter, Colin Murray; Belfast Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers; Howard Holmes from FURD (Football Unites, Racism Divides) and Patrick Gasser from UEFA.

Former England Manager, Graham Taylor, said, “I am delighted to support FWF. Volunteers are the lifeblood of the game and the FWF conference in Belfast is a great opportunity to shine the media spotlight on Volunteers who are making a meaningful difference in the community. I believe we all have a responsibility to challenge racism and sectarianism”.

The conference also includes the World Premier of the new Football For All Play by renowned Playwright, Martin Lynch.