COLERAINE Football Club strengthened its links with the local community with the unveiling of a very special piece of artwork at the ground on Friday night.
The ‘Field of Dreams—Legacy for Life’ community artwork project, which details the club’s history right through to present day, was the culmination of a number of months work.
Chairman Colin McKendry was delighted with the finished artwork.
“Coleraine FC are delighted to have such a prominent piece of artwork on show at the Coleraine Showgrounds,” said Colin.
“Many of the men depicted in the Coleraine Alexandra and Olympic teams from 1912 to 1914 were local men who were also bound for the battle fields of World War I. These two clubs later went on to merge to become Coleraine FC in 1927.
“Depicted in another piece, the vast majority of the players from the senior, reserve and colts teams, during Coleraine FC’s most successful ever, six trophy winning season of 1968, were again from the local area.
“Other pieces hold various memories of local community and schools teams side by side with some of the clubs legends.
“The main piece concentrates on some of the clubs current community activities which we as a club see as a significant step towards Coleraine FC re-establishing itself as one of the country’s true community clubs which can positively contribute in various ways to the local society.”
This initiative was an intergenerational citizenship and arts programme targeting three groups of young people who were at risk of antisocial behaviour from Millburn, Knocklyn and Greenmount supported by Coleraine Football Club Community Liaison and Coleraine Academy, Causeway Rural & urban Network and PSNI Neighbourhood Policing Team.
There were three distinct elements to this programme:
A reminiscence programme which targeted the residents of the Ballycastle Road looking at the history of the football club, its sporting heroes and the place that the club holds in the life of the town.
A Sports Coaching and citizenship programme which was used as a tool of engagement with the young people to enable them to become involved in the project.
An arts programme which has created four pieces of public art which were produced by the young people working with the artist Ross Wilson based on the reminiscence and memories of the older people taking part in the project.
Underpinning the whole programme was a mediation and dialogue process looking at community planning solutions to a range of policing issues which are focussed on the football club including antisocial behaviour of fans before, during and after matches.
This element was an essential core focus of the programme as shared space can only be created when all of the factors inhibiting it are acknowledged and positive solutions sought.
The PSNI funded this element of the programme through their Policing in the Community Fund and matched funding was provided by the International Fund for Ireland through CRUN Good Relations Project and this process was facilitated by the Coleraine Neighbourhood Policing Team and CRUN Good Relations Officer.
This was an ambitious project spanning eighteen months and a number of agencies working collaboratively were key to its success at each stage.
The reminiscence programme was facilitated by the club historian Mr Hunter McClelland with input from Maurice Bradley.
The project also had key support from Sarah Carson from Causeway Museum Service who provided images from the community archive and support and expertise. A successful timeline event was held as part of this process which was supported by the Irish Football Association and facilitators from Healing through Remembering.
The sports coaching and citizenship programme was delivered collaboratively by Coleraine Borough Council Sports Development Team, Coleraine PCSP Sponsored Youth Inclusion Project and the Irish Football Association and the young people involved accessed sports coaching, Referee Training and Positive Fan Behaviour Workshops and also completed OCN Accredited training in Level 2 Community Drugs and Alcohol Awareness and Peer Leadership Skills.
As part of the citizenship element of the programme young people worked with PBNI volunteers to paint the exterior walls of the club a bright white colour and also tidied up the club grounds.
The art workshops were jointly funded by the PSNI Policing in the Community Fund and the International Fund for Ireland through CRUN Good Relations Project.
Ross Wilson worked with the young people to develop the images which culminated in the production of the art pieces and the development of art skills in the participants.
In keeping with the ethos of celebrating diversity and shared space the launch of the project has been funded by Coleraine Borough Good Relations Project whose funding will be utilised to engage with young people across the Borough from all backgrounds who will come together to celebrate the reimaging of the club and the success of its shared space project which will more effectively highlight the valuable work that the club has undertaken to become more welcoming to all.
PSNI Policing in the Community Fund; International Fund for Ireland through CRUN Good Relations Project; Coleraine Borough Council Good Relations Strategy; Coleraine PCSP (Youth Inclusion Project)
Coleraine Borough Council Sports Development; Irish Football Association; Causeway Museums Service; PBNI;
Healing Through Remembering