Columnist Matt’s nominated for ‘Pride of Britain’ award

Matt Watterson

Matt Watterson

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BALLYMONEY Times columnist, Matt Watterson, has been nominated for the ‘Pride of Britain’ award 2012 for an initiative in cross-community work in his local area.

Matt from Ballycastle, recognised further need for inclusive community sports in Moyle. His passion for fitness, health and wellbeing combined with a love of martial arts helped establish what is now the growing ‘Ballycastle Judo’ and ‘Causeway Wrestling’ clubs.

Matt, was nominated by Stu Plant. Stu, employed as a Community Safety Warden in Ballycastle and an Independent Member of Ballymoney Policing and Community Safety Partnership, has put forward this nomination in recognition of Matt’s engagement in helping to establish the club but also for the purpose of creating a genuine cross-community activity in the area, including his Wellbeing column every week in the Times.

Stu Plant said: “Matt has worked hard in re-establishing a centre for martial arts in Ballycastle which brings to the town a version of the increasingly popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sport which is the fastest grown sport today.

“The club early on received support from Moyle Community Safety Partnership and I myself have been fortunate to have worked with Matt from the very beginning in seeing the club start up and have seen his dedication to include those left on the margins of other associations/sport”.

Alan Ashcroft of ‘AVT MMA’, twice Commonwealth Masters medallist, who now administers the club, has along with Matt been key in the club becoming what it is.

Alan who was approached by Matt to coach is one of the leading respected members of Judo in N.I. and brings a level of professional coaching to the club other areas would be envious of.

Recently, all three travelled to Stormont to gain support for the club and MMA on the north coast region.

Stu said: “We discussed with political representatives the benefits of martial arts in improving not only fitness levels but as an initiative in bringing together individuals from different communities and in giving a sense of discipline and structure to its young members”.

Matt’s drive for wanting to bring people together goes further than MMA.

Recently Matt and Stu discussed plans to organise a cross-community team from Ballycastle and Ballymoney, to participate in an internationally held sports challenge coming to Belfast 2013.

Stu explained: “There is more that joins us together than which divides us, working together is the way forward and I believe Matt and people like him really understand this”

The ‘Pride of Britain’ nomination recognises the commitment required of Matt and others in helping set up the club, but more importantly, it recognises the club’s approach to cross-community activity and its ambition to be a sporting activity, inclusive of intergenerational, mixed sex and religion, a model example and credit to the area.

Anyone interested in training at the club can use the following links: online: ‘Facebook’ AVT MMA / Ballycastle or call in to the McAlister Hall Moyle Road, Ballycastle on Monday evenings from 7pm.