Our hearts go out to you

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The people of Coleraine opened their hearts to the Norwegian youngsters from Revo Express at the opening parade of the Milk Cup in Sunday evening.

The young players left their base just north of Oslo on Friday just after the horrific incidents which have stunned the country and the world as a whole.

The team were left in no doubt though that the people of Northern Ireland felt their anguish as they received a standing ovation upon entering Coleraine Showgrounds.

Speaking afterwards coach Ryan McKnight said it was ‘overwhelming’.

“Really our boys haven’t really had much time to take it all in,” he said.

“It’s a really unique thing within Norway, they’re such a sensitive and caring nation.

“They are a Socialist nation and have genuine feelings towards each other and look after each other in society, so it’s clear that they have been effected by it, the whole nation has.

“But they have shown great resilience so far. The resilience of the nation has been fantastic and it has been the same right the way through the country.

“They don’t want the country to change because it’s such a wonderful country full of such good natured people, who don’t want their general day to day behaviours changed and we hope our boys don’t either.

“The standing ovation we got inside the ground was unique to our club and it was overwhelming.

“It’s probably a good place for them to be this week as Northern Ireland has had troubles of its own down the years.

“They will be around people who understand what is going on and who can show them the type of empathy they need this week.

“Sport is a great healer for any conflict, we’ve seen that all around the world and come tomorrow they will be doing their utmost to do the nation proud.”

Spectators at The Showgrounds observed a minute’s silence for both those who were killed in Norway and also local council worker Alan Devenney (39) who tragically died last Friday.

Hundreds of young footballers from around the world paraded through Coleraine on Sunday night for the official start of the 2011 tournament.

The annual feast of youth football has attracted teams from more than 20 countries across the globe.

The tournament was officially opened by former Manchester United, Everton and Northern Ireland star, Norman Whiteside.