- 10 young women from Belfast visited Fight for Change to gain boxing accreditation
- Women came from Shankill and Ballymurphy areas of Belfast
- Boxing club to be set-up upon groups’ return to Belfast
- Office for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) funded
London, UK – Thursday 17 April 2014: A group of young women from the Shankill and Ballymurphy areas of Belfast were in London this past weekend as part of a community exchange visit between the Belfast and London offices of youth and community development charity and Fight for Change network partner, Active Communities Network.
The grassroots group, consisting of future leaders and mentors identified by Active Communities Network, visited England as part of an Office for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) funded peer mentoring programme which has been running for the past 18 months.
Whilst the group were in London they took part in training from the Crystal Palace FC Foundation, work-shadowing, development sessions focusing on female empowerment and attended the Crystal Palace vs. Aston Villa Premier League game even being presented on the pitch at half time.
But the highlight of their trip was attending the Fight for Change gym at the Black Prince Community Hub in Lambeth, south London to complete a BoxFit qualification.
Belfast is world-renowned as being a hotbed of boxing talent and with the recent inclusion of female boxers at the Olympics, interest in the art is spreading amongst women through the city and further afield.
The group were put through their paces by Rebecca Donnelly, Head of Operations for Fight for Change, who was assisted by Fight for Change young coaches and representatives from England Boxing and the London ABA.
Ahead of their final text the Belfast young leaders had the opportunity to test some of their newly-learnt coaching skills on a group of 10-12 year olds from the nearby Salmon Youth Centre.
The skills and experiences gained from the course will see the young leaders able to deliver boxing and other sports to local young people back in their communities upon their return back to Belfast where they will help to create the next generation of young leaders
Fionnuala Conlon, Active Communities Network Belfast Sports Development Intern and Group Leader said:
“It has been brilliant; the girls have loved it – every bit of it,” she said. “It was quiet in the beginning as the girls hadn’t even met each other yet, but now they are best mates.
“We will continue to work together as they will not only be running sports days back in Belfast, they are heading them up. We definitely need more female leaders in Belfast – especially those from across the city.”
Laura Luke, Youth Worker, from the Hammer Youth Club in Shankill said:
“The last few days have been absolutely brilliant, the girls heard about lots of different qualifications which are of interest and it has really driven and inspired them. They are now going to use that back in Northern Ireland to inspire young people to get involved with sport.
“Sport can be a very male dominated area and it will be great to go back and teach young girls about how they can get involved and put their time to good use – the girls want to set up a boxing class at the Hammer Youth Club for females now so that is very positive.”
Rebecca Dodds, 16, from Shankill, Belfast said:
“In the beginning when we met up it was quiet, we didn’t really speak – it was just us as the Hammer Youth Club girls and the others in their own group but this weekend we have joined together and it’s been really nice to get to know them.
“I found it really enjoyable and we’ve been speaking to all the other girls all of the time – when we are back home we will see if we can meet up every week as we can now run boxing ourselves so we hope to start running groups together to get other girls interested.
“Back home there’s boxing and football clubs and they’re always for boys so it will be good to get girls involved. Girls need more role models in sport; it would be good to be a role model for younger girls.”
Caitlin Canning, 16, from Ballymurphy, Belfast said:
“It’s been excellent and we’ve learnt so much – we are now all like best mates and are going to start up a group together.
“There are not a lot of role models for girls to get into sport and we need more – I loved the boxing especially because I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as I have never done it before but it is really good once you get into it – I don’t really know any females who box in Belfast so we will use it to try and attract females into sport.
“The Crystal Palace match was brilliant too – we had never been to a game before and I loved going on the pitch at half time, I was really nervous before, but it was actually really good.”
Gary Stannett MBE CEO, Active Communities Network said:
“This group is a great example of what can be achieved when you empower young people. It’s been great to join the dots between our Belfast and London offices of Active Communities Network and the young leaders who we work with in both cities.
“I would like to thank the Office for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister for their ongoing support, not just financially but at all levels, and the Crystal Palace FC Foundation for their continued co-operation.”
Donald Forde, Head of Crystal Palace FC Foundation said:
“These past few days have seen a fantastic opportunity to continue the Crystal Palace FC Foundation Northern Ireland work which follows our coaching sessions in Belfast last summer.
“It was particularly inspiring to see so many young female leaders from across Belfast join together to come here and as a Premier League club we are proud that we can inspire, motivate and empower young people to do great things in, and for, their communities.”