Come together to kick out discrimination
2017-11-01 16:25:00 -

Former Ireland soccer international Damien Duff has urged young people across the country to embrace diversity in all areas of their lives – especially in sport.


The current first-team coach at Shamrock Rovers was speaking in Dublin recently as he joined Sport Against Racism Ireland (Sari) director Brian Kerr and the pupils of St Kilian’s Senior National School in Tallaght an for anti-discrimination training workshop as part of Fare’s Football People action weeks.


The annual initiative, which runs from October till late December, aims to unite professional and amateur soccer players, fans and young people on pitches and playgrounds throughout Ireland in various workshops, games and training events that challenge discrimination and promote the social inclusion of

marginalised groups.

“I am delighted to be here in St Kilian’s today to see how much fun can be had while learning some incredibly important life skills,” Duff told the youngsters taking part. “Looking around, it is clear how sport is uniquely placed to unite people, to bring communities and countries together but also to teach us how to work together as a team, to treat each other with respect and fairness.”


He continued: “There can be no room for discrimination, on the pitch, or playground or within our workplaces or communities. Therefore, it is fantastic to see the work — and play — that is taking place to make these spaces a better place. 


“Sari’s work through sports is changing how young people can understand the world and each other and it’s great to be a part of it today.”


In his own address, former Ireland manager Brian Kerr said Duff “remains an inspiration to people both on and off the pitch because he worked hard and played fair. We are absolutely thrilled to have him with us today to participate in the workshops and see the work that is being done.


“The anti-discrimination workshops are very popular because young people can see for themselves how the kindest and fairest and most straightforward thing to do is to treat people with respect. Sari is very grateful to Damien for helping us bring this important message to people.”


During the Football People weeks, the Irish co-ordinators at SARI will deliver free anti-discrimination soccer training workshops in primary schools across the country. These workshops bring together pupils, on the pitch or playground to play soccer and develop their skills in the game, while in the process considering and challenging concepts such as discrimination and racism as well as learning about other cultures in Irish society. The children and young people taking part can then take these skills and knowledge, from teamwork to fairness, and apply them off the pitch. Schools and youth groups can find out more on


Airtricity League clubs will also host a series of matches during the Football People weeks against teams from refugee communities, direct provision centres and other at-risk communities. 


Already a mini-tournament has taken place in Carlow hosted by two LGBT teams, Dublin Devils and Cork Rebels, alongside the Rohingya refugee community who have been resident in Carlow since 2009.


“This is the biggest nationwide initiative to tackle discrimination and we are seeing phenomenal work being put in by clubs, schools and communities who are organising and participating in activities that are intended to connect and challenge discrimination,” said Kerr. “There is still an opportunity to be part of it so I would encourage schools and clubs to get in touch and get involved.”



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