SAY no to drugs will be the message when a team of gardai take on a selection of junior soccer players in an exhibition match at the weekend.
Organised by Pike Rovers, the match will take place at Crosagalla at 1.30pm on Saturday and will be followed by an underage match between Pike Rovers and Geraldines AFC.
The aim of the fixture is to highlight the dangers of drug use and to discourage young people from taking illegal drugs.
“When you look at the kids here, we are trying to steer them in the right direction at a young age and if we show them the right attitude towards drugs, hopefully when they get older they will say no to drugs because it is an epidemic at the moment - it is absolutely crazy,” said Pat Dillon, chairman of Pike Rovers, which currently has 86 underage players from across the city.
The club, which has teams from under-5 upwards, says it is important that it gives something back to the local community.
Declan Considine, who overseas the underage teams at the club, says it’s important that other junior soccer clubs from across the city have given their support for Saturday’s match, which he hopes can become an annual event.
“Hopefully, we can set the trend for the rest of the clubs to follow because it is support that you need and it’s no good just us on our own making a stand,” he said adding that sporting organisations, such as Pike Rovers, can give young people from so-called disadvantaged areas of the city, a kick-start in life.
“I think it’s very important that kids from disadvantaged areas would get the same chance as those from from advantaged areas. That’s very very important. This isn’t just all about Pike, this is for the city and it is very important that people are aware that it’s for all clubs,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Pike Rovers, which has already introduced an annual drugs awareness course for under 14-year-olds says a drugs councillor will attend Saturday’s match to give advice to the children and young people who attend on the day.
The Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin is also expected to attend the match to show his support for the initiative.