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PlayBall Street Striker

PlayBall Street Striker

28 February 2012

PlayBall Street Striker initiative seeks Belfast's new footie talent

Young people from communities across East Belfast have been brought together by PlayBall's new Street Striker initiative which sees around 200 football fanatics aged 14 - 17, converge on the Stormont facility to take part in a competition of skill over a period of 6 weeks to land the ultimate prize of a week's trial at Swansea City FC.

Reminiscent of Wayne Rooney's Street Striker project on Sky TV the young hopefuls will be judged by a team of talented judges from the world of Football and given the opportunity to showcase their skills with street soccer type challenges including freestyle and events such as target shooting using tyres, boxes and obstacle courses.

The project will be managed and delivered by PlayBall, the state of the art football facility at the Pavilion, Stormont and will be supported by a number of stakeholders such as local community groups, PSNI, Sport NI, Malone College, Swansea City, IFA and Citybeat Radio.

As recently as December, Swansea City F.C were celebrating the signing of one young talented footballer, Rory Donnelly from Cliftonville FC and the team obviously have high hopes for the undiscovered talent yet to come out of Northern Ireland. Brian Kidd, one of the weekly judges on Street Striker and the Ireland Scout for Swansea City FC is looking forward to seeing the talent from the streets of Belfast;

"I'm really excited to get the opportunity to look at young players who may not be involved in a particular club set up meaning it would be much harder for them to be on my radar - I'm expecting to see real raw talent and I am not necessarily looking for a polished professional player - I really hope to find someone unique who stands out from the crowd and who can be trained up via the Swansea City FC youth academy to hopefully progress on to become a football star of the future. A week's trial at Swansea City FC is a huge prize for any young player and I hope that those involved in the PlayBall Street Striker Initiative take this opportunity to impress me and the other judges with their abilities''


Paul Shaw, PlayBall Sport Development Officer is delighted with the positive response from the community and the PSNI;

"The staff at PlayBall are extremely excited about the initiative and the impact it will have on the local community. Apart from the serious message of bringing young people from opposing areas together with a common goal we are really excited about the possibility of finding Northern Ireland's next big name in football. Many of the internationally renowned players began their football careers on the streets so there is no reason we can't expect to find the next Wayne Rooney or George Best at the PlayBall Street Striker project."

Guest judges throughout the competition have been secured from Northern Ireland's crème de la crème of football experts. Newly appointed Northern Ireland Manager, Michael O'Neill, Irish league legend Glenn Ferguson and current Northern Ireland International Danielle McDowell are on the judging panel, guaranteeing that the judges really are the best in the business, and that they will certainly put each of the kids through their paces over the course of the project to see who deserves the coveted prize of a week's trial with Swansea City FC.

IFA Head of Community Relations, Michael Boyd, added;

"This is an exciting project for Belfast and with support from UEFA the IFA is proud to support the PlayBall Street Striker project. We would like to see more talent being discovered here in Northern Ireland and I am sure this is the perfect platform to do so, hopefully those that take part see this as the opportunity it is and will use this to showcase some of the hidden talent we know is out there. Good luck to all involved, this is a fantastic community initiative and one we hope to see grow and develop long into the future."

The PlayBall Street Striker Initiative takes place at PlayBall, The Pavilion, Stormont and runs until Saturday 24th March when the winner will be chosen to make the trip to Swansea City FC.

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