4 Corners Festival Bringing Communities Together Through Sports

4 Corners Festival returns for its 11th annual instalment on January 27 for a 9-day event running until February 5, covering a variety of music, art, talks, sporting and religious-based events.

This year’s theme, Dreams…Visions For Belfast is hoping to inspire individuals from all areas within the city to create a peaceful home for all communities.

One of the many activities taking place within the festival is the Game of 3 Halves, which sees young people from all areas of Belfast brought together through the power of sports.

PeacePlayers NI are hosting the event, open to all young people aged 11 to 14, with the aim of changing the competitive nature of games and removing any conflict, instead replacing it with positive lessons and outcomes, on and off the court.

Games such as Gaelic football, soccer and rugby will be played by integrated teams from Belfast as well as having on-site PeacePlayers Coaches and mentors to help participants throughout the 3-hour long event.

Aoife Redmond, Regional Programme Coordinator, has seen how this scheme is successful in uniting children through engaging fun sports based activities.

She said: “We get kids together on integrated teams to play basketball, to engage in team building activities together and actually get to know one another.”

“We run programmes for multiple age groups; our Twinning programme brings catholic and protestant primary school classes together on integrated teams, to play basketball and engage in good relations conversations and activities.”

Aoife also explained that PeacePlayers offer further programmes to promote togetherness outside of the festival, which is ideal for any children and young people who enjoy the event to continue with the inspirational messages the team and activities produce.

She added: “We also have our Leadership Development Programme, which is for participants in 4th year – Upper sixth to come together and learn about cultures, our core values and curriculum delivery as well as playing basketball together.”

Ed Peterson of Clonard Monastery, representing the 4 Corners Festival, explained that the event is aimed at bringing young people from all communities, backgrounds and corners of the city together.

He said: “I love the overall ethos of the 4 Corners Festival to encourage all of us to get out of our corner of the city, not only just the geographical corner of the city to experience other parts of Belfast but also just around other ideas and opportunities.

“Young people can meet new people and explore various different subject matters together with people from different areas of Belfast or even beyond.”

Open to both previous PeacePlayers attendees and young people (aged 11-14) who have never been to the programme before, perfect for anyone looking to get involved, meet new people and develop connections and friendships.

Siblings Abdelmonieum and Maryam Salman are both participants who regularly attend the PeacePlayers events, with them both enjoying the sense of community they gain from going.

Abdelmonieum said: “PeacePlayers is always like a second home to me. I look forward to going to it every week.”

Maryam also explained how she has developed great connections with fellow students who attend the sessions, saying: “Because of PeacePlayers I got to meet new people and make new friends.”

Joshua Curtis, another young person who attends the games, said he finds PeacePlayers to be incredibly fun and rewarding.

He said: “I’ve made plenty of friends through the festival. There’s so many games, there’s so much to do, there’s such a great atmosphere in the stadium – it’s really, really fun.”

Game of 3 Halves will take place at 6 pm on Wednesday, February 1 at Queen’s PEC, and is open to young people across the city who have not attended these programmes before.

For more information on how to get involved with Game of 3 Halves go to eventbrite.co.uk/game-of-3-halves.

For the full 4 Corners Festival programme visit 4cornersfestival.com

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