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Bannsiders support ‘Stride the Stadia’

COLERAINE FC extends its best wishes to Irish League fans Gareth Brown and Chris Kirk who are raising funds for charity…

The pair have decided to swap their soccer boots for walking boots to help raise much needed funds for local charity, Sport Changes Life.

The lifelong friends have set themselves an exciting but demanding challenge this month when they ‘Stride The Stadia’, which will see them walk a 210 mile route around every Irish Premier League ground over five days, starting and ending with their own beloved club, Glentoran.

Speaking at the launch in Sport Changes Life Headquarters father of three, Gareth Brown said he was buzzing to get out there and start raising money.

“I am a family man from a working-class area in Belfast who prides myself on being a good role model to my kids,” he said.

“It is important that they see me keeping myself both physically and mentally active and in doing so helping others; not just in my own community but other communities irrespective of who they are or where they are from.

“This has been a tough year for everyone with the pandemic, so we just wanted to get outdoors and do something fun, that was close to our hearts and generating money for charity at the same time. So, we are walking to keep active, talking to keep our minds well, laughing to keep our spirits up and getting to visit all the Irish Premier League football stadia across Northern Ireland!  What’s not to love about that?”

This was echoed by friend, Chris Kirk, who has experienced first-hand how sport has had a huge positive influence in his own life.

He said: “I’ve seen the impact that sport has had on me growing up and from a young age it taught me about core values like respect, teamwork and motivation.

“These core values are shared by the programmes Sport Changes Life offer in our communities.

“They work with young people with the sole aim of raising their aspirations to help them succeed and thrive, no matter what their circumstances or backgrounds are.

“As well as trying to involve all the Irish League teams we will be inviting local grassroots soccer clubs, youth organisations, community groups, local businesses and anyone who wants to help us raise our £20k target and spread the message that sport really can change lives.

“We’ve already had some well-known faces and sports people send us good luck messages, so will be rolling these out over the coming weeks.”

Chief Executive of Sport Changes Life, Gareth Maguire, has been genuinely humbled by enthusiasm and determination both Chris and Gareth have shown, not just to raise much needed funds for the charity, but to proactively instil positivity through their actions and give something back.

“Helping empower young people from disadvantaged communities to find the path to a brighter future is something Sport Changes Life is extremely passionate about,” he said.

“We’ve been established for over a decade now using sporting excellence, academic achievement and personal development to deliver a number of youth engagement programmes across the island.

“Whilst current lockdown restrictions have been challenging, now, more than ever we see a greater need to improve the lives of young at-risk youth and the funds from this #StrideTheStadiaChallenge will enable us to roll out several exciting new initiatives, over the coming year.”

This year you can donate to Sport Changes Life here STRIDE THE STADIA  Go Fund Me page or Text STRIDE (amount) e.g. STRIDE 5 to 70085

The Stride The Stadia Challenge will take place on Tuesday, August 17 to Saturday, August 21. To find out how you can get involved as a team, organisation, business, or individual email info@sportchangeslife.com and don’t forget to follow the lads’ progress on social media

Route

Day One: Glentoran FC – Linfield FC – Glenavon FC – Portadown FC

Day Two: Portadown FC -Warrenpoint Town FC – Dungannon Swifts FC

Day Three: Dungannon Swifts FC – Coleraine FC

Day Four: Coleraine FC – Ballymena United FC – Larne FC

Day Five: Larne FC – Carrick Rangers FC – Cliftonville FC – Crusaders FC – Glentoran FC