It wasn’t long after we bought our house in Ballycastle (the house we live in in Belfast belongs to Fitzroy) that I got angry and frustrated with my Protestant upbringing.
Ballycastle is a hurling town. If you are a young person, you carry a hurley. Everybody seems to play hurling or camogie.
On the grass at the sea front or on the beach, they are using these sticks to knock a sliotar between each other. The way they hit it and even more beautifully control it in the air with the hurley the more I regretted that I didn’t get an opportunity to play hurling when I was young.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Hurling is a game for the brave. Catching a well hit sliotar in the air with two or three players around you. Courage.
As a soccer player I was very fast, had decent close control, a good eye for a pass and a goal but I wasn’t brave enough to take it to a higher level. At hurling I would have been way to much of a coward to make it. I would however have loved a bit of skilful playing around down the seafront.
It is one of the many downsides of our tragic divisions. If you are a Protestant and go this school you play Rugby or soccer. Go to a Catholic school and it is GAA football or hurling.
My best mate when I was 11 and 12 was Frank Kelly. What a footballer. He had the courage. He also went to the Catholic school and played GAA football so I rememberer him trying to teach me how to dribble with the ball in your hand for a few seconds, kick, ball in hand, kick… at speed!
Then Frank moved to Dublin and I was cut off again.
How I would have loved Peace Players. No hurling but the opportunity for 11 to 14 year olds to play the sports they don’t get the chance to play. Love it. More of it.
So 4 Corners Festival, working with Peace Players for the third year, will give your children the opportunity. If they are aged 11-14 years they are invited to connect with others across Belfast for games, sports and activities, all in the comfort of their own home.
Being at home will not take away any of the friendly competition and fun. In all of the energy there will be time to take a breath from all that is challenging our younger teens and a contribution to bringing Belfast together.
register at https://4cornersfestival.com