Inspire those that have dreams - that was the message at a special launch hosted by the Harry Gregg Foundation on Saturday morning at Ulster University’s Coleraine Campus.
As over one thousand youngsters gathered at the University pitches, Harry himself was there to watch alongside special guests as the North West and Coleraine and District Youth League’s small sided games centre, which is now managed by the Harry Gregg Foundation was re-launched.
The Centre, which began in Coleraine’s Ballysally estate with just four samba nets and eight teams back in 2009 has now grown to host over one thousands children and 100 teams from across the Province.
Teams from across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are joined each Saturday morning by teams from Londonderry and Mid Ulster as the Centre continues to swell in numbers.
Harry ran his eye over the Saturday morning session joined by IFA President Jim Shaw and former Manchester United players, Keith Gillespie and Pat McGibbon.
Speaking to Times Sport, Harry complemented all those involved and said: “It’s just nice to see children enjoying football- no coaching. It is my belief that we should just let them play,” said the Manchester United legend.
Harry said that the emphasis must be on fun, and he added that it was ‘marvellous’ to see so many young people enjoying football.
Chairman of the Foundation, Andy Alcorn told those present that the aim of the Centre was to inspire the next generation.
“The next Harry Gregg or George Best could be out there, we have to inspire them,” he said.
Andy said that the Foundation wanted to get people involved in the game of football, and encourage us to ‘fall back in love’ with the game.
But, he said that the Centre was about more than just football, that it was a social occasion and a community occasion. “There are people out there watching football who have never watched before,” he said.
“We hope that down the line more families will come along and watch Irish League games,” he said.
Ulster University Provost Prof Deirdre Heenan, a Manchester United fan and supporter of the Harry Gregg Foundation, welcomed the Centre to the Coleraine campus.
She told those present that sport was ‘at the heart’ of the University.
She told those present that work would commence soon on a new state of the art £5 million sports centre at Coleraine and added: “This resource will be a resource for the community, it is our aim to be a civic university.”
The Harry Gregg Foundation was launched back in February.
It aims to encourage young people’s participation in football and other health, lifestyle, educational, heritage and social inclusion activities.
On Saturday morning, one of the Foundations ambassadors, Liam Beckett said he was delighted to be involved, and remarked that it was wonderful to have children playing football locally.
“It’s great that we have a facility like this on our doorstep.
“So often children have had to travel to Belfast to play football, but here we have hundreds of children from different teams enjoying the game.
“It’s does the heart good.”