Irish FA using football to help Northern Ireland government to tackle crime and reduce re-offending
Football is being used a means to help reduce crime in Northern Ireland thanks to a new partnership between the Irish FA and government agencies.
The Stay Onside initiative is designed to help young offenders turn their lives around through a series of programmes run by the Irish FA in collaboration with the police, probation and prison services and the justice agency.
These agencies work together on Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP) - a Northern Ireland-wide approach to the management of priority or prolific offenders and young people at risk of offending.
The Stay Onside inside programme seeks to help young people such as these move away from crime, using football as the primary tool.
The new and innovative programme provides the opportunity for people to get involved in football as a player, coach or referee, whilst providing skills, education and support to enable people to explore new alternatives and gain employment.
At the end of the six- or twelve- week programme, participants could have the opportunity to work at Irish FA events or with Irish League clubs.
"This programme is both innovative and collaborative", said justice minister Claire Sugden, speaking at the launch. "I am delighted that justice organisations have come together with the Irish FA to design a programme which aims to tackle the root causes of offending.
"We need to move beyond dealing with the symptoms of crime and instead deal with the causes and I believe this programme provides an opportunity to do just that. "
Irish FA president David Martin said: “The Irish FA is committed to football for all and believes that our sport makes a positive impact on the community in Northern Ireland.
"I am delighted that the association is helping to pioneer this innovative programme and I look forward to seeing the meaningful impact it has in the coming months and years.”
Image courtesy of IrishFA.com