A FIVE day football camp featuring UEFA trained coaches from Sunderland will form the centrepiece of a new community festival on the southside of the city.
Taking place for a week in August, the Southside City Summerfest is the brainchild of Southill man Mark Heffernan, through the Changing Lives charity, and aims to bring communities together, as well as raising much needed funds for Childline, up to €20,000.
Mark has teamed up with Sunderland’s registered charity Foundation of Light plus various other sporting bodies and community groups to put on the week long event and provide “high-quality facilities and activities” for young people on the southside.
“The main thing for everyone is to get into the communities and engage and get them active and interested and give them opportunities to get into new sports,” explained Mark, who is backing the project and hopes to see it established as an annual event that runs across the city.
“We are going to have different workshops for them, rugby, boxing, GAA and just give kids more opportunities than they are getting. There are plenty of opportunities in the communities for them, but we are just going to give them more samples of sports and hopefully they will continue with them,” he added.
The intention is to provide a structured, sports-based programme that will have a focus on health and fitness - with meals provided - and with a summer camp at its heart on a greenfield site beside the Maldron Hotel, with coaches from Sunderland, the FAI and several local sports clubs involved.
“The main this with this event is that it is for everyone, you don’t have to be really good at football. We want you to come and say you have tried your hardest, you have turned up every day, you have learnt and taken something home from the programme,” said Mark.
Brett McGoldrick, from Sunderland, said the club’s charity was “really impressed with the scale of what was going on” in Limerick.
“Mark was looking for a football related organisation to partner up and help deliver the programme,” he explained.
“We had a conversation about the requirements and obviously we have done a bit of work in Limerick before, Sunderland and Limerick are deeply aligned with each other, and the cities are very similar. We had a bit of a chat and realised we could work together, send some coaches over here and help improve football facilities here.”
Other events include music talent workshops, a community sports and fun day, a family fitness run-run and a charity soccer match. The week will conclude with a free concert headlined by Paddy Casey and local acts. See www.southsidecitysummerfest.com.