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Capturing ‘La Copa del Mondo’ fever

Published: Mon, 11 Aug 2014
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Schools kids with Johnny Flynn & Joe Gormley, Cliftonville F.C., Eric Cahoon & John Leathem, Helm Housing, NIHE’s John Rafferty & Michael Hilton, and Kevin Madden, Lisburn City Council.
World Cup Lisburn
Just before World Cup 2014 kicked off in Brazil some 130 primary school children from Lisburn, Dunmurry and Colin took part in their own mini-World Cup organised by the Housing Executive in partnership with Helm Housing.
Our Neighbourhood Officers Michael Hilton and John Rafferty, along with John Leathem and Eric Cahoon of Helm Housing recognised the importance of team work and sport to a child’s development and well-being when they worked on an Olympic Games based event in 2012.  Hoping to capture some of this spirit again they met early in 2014 to plan how they could create the same enthusiasm through the World Cup.  
As it aimed to foster better relations and create a greater awareness and understanding of diversity the Housing Executive’s Race Relations team and Helm Housing were delighted to fund the initiative.
Kevin Madden, from the Lisburn City Council’s Sports Development department, was vital to organising the running of the competition.  He designed the format and ensured play went smoothly.  Most importantly he arranged the tournament’s referees!
The local Primary schools involved included Good Shepherd, St Kieran’s, St Mark’s, Our Lady Queen of Peace, St Luke’s, Oakwood Integrated, Naiscoil Na Fuiseoga (Twinbrook) and Ballymacash.  Each school undertook to represent a country taking part in the World Cup and create a project about their country for display on the day.   
Just before the competition started each school was presented with the flag of the country they were representing so there was a bright display of the colours of Australia, France, Ghana, Japan, Portugal, Spain, USA and the hosts Brazil to greet those who attended.
Portugal, aka Ballymacash, won the Lisburn ‘copa del mondo’ trophy as overall winners whilst Brazil, aka St Luke’s, lifted the shield as B team winners. No-one left empty handed as each child received a certificate of participation.
Neighbourhood Officer Michael Hilton commented:
“It was terrific to see the children enjoying themselves so much and embracing the World Cup theme.  There were some terrific projects by the schools on display and it was clear they and their teachers got a lot from the event.  A huge congratulations to all who took part.”
John Leathem from Helm Housing echoed what Michael said and continued: “Helm Housing place great value in supporting events that boost positive community relations. We were delighted to work with our colleagues in the Housing Executive to run the mini World Cup.  Sport is a great forum for showing how to work as a team and nurture good relations, hopefully it will not be another four years until the next event!”
Stephen Gray, headmaster of the winning school Ballymacash was delighted with the event saying: “I just wanted to thank you for the fantastic tournament which our boys and girls took part in.  Forget Brazil, at Brook, the sun shone. The event was very well organised and there was a warm welcome and the pupils and staff all came back buzzing about their day out!
“Winning it was certainly the icing on the cake but from all reports, I hope we don’t have to wait four years for another invite back. Thanks for all your work”.
Alderman Paul Porter, Chairman of the Council’s Leisure Services Committee, speaking about the tournament, said:
“I am delighted that the Council had the opportunity to work with the two housing organisations, the Housing Executive and Helm Housing,  and involve local schools in the World Cup fever, while competing as footballers representing a participating countries.  I understand eight schools from the Lisburn, Dunmurry and Colin areas took part and had a great enjoyable experience.
“Sport is very important for young people and the Council through its Sports Development Unit tries to engage as many young people as possible in a variety of sports. I would like to congratulate the overall winning team from Ballymacash Primary School, which won the Tournament as Portugal; and I wonder if that could be the winning team in the 2014 Brazilian World Cup,” he concluded.