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BELFAST, May 15, 2012
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Sean Fitzpatrick has urged politicians to back youth sports projects after high level meetings at Stormont today.
The Urban Stars project, on the Ballymurphy Estate in Belfast, uses sport as a powerful tool to promote opportunities for young people and to help them develop their skills to become the leaders of tomorrow.
All Blacks Rugby World Cup winner Fitzpatrick, visited the latest Laureus Sport for Good Foundation project, Urban Stars where he took part in hurling games and shared some sporting tips with the young people who attend the project.
Fitzpatrick then travelled to Stormont for a meeting with politicians to discuss the power of sport to help young people. Attendees at the meeting included First Minister Peter Robinson (top image right), Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (top image left), Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin and Youth Justice Minister David Ford.
Sean Fitzpatrick said: “As a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, I’ve been privileged to support a wide range of sports projects around the world.
“One thing remains consistent in all the projects I’ve visited and those I’ve been told about by other Laureus Academy Members: as our patron Nelson Mandela said, ‘sport has the power to change the world.’
“Visiting the project on the Ballymurphy estate today, it’s clear that the latest Urban Stars project is having a fantastic impact on young people, providing the skills and guidance that will turn many of these young people into the leaders of tomorrow.
“I’ve urged the politicians I’ve met today to get behind the Urban Stars project and others like it so we can help more young people across Belfast. Laureus has done research which proved that investing in sports recreation for young people pays for itself five-fold in terms of money which does not have to be spent on policing, education and health issues.
“Belfast has gone through some challenging times and this area is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, but I’m delighted to see that some of the money raised is being used for such a great cause. The young people I’ve met have such strong spirit and just need a little guidance to fulfil the potential they all have inside them.”
Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin added: “Belfast has undergone a huge transformation in recent years but many people and communities still face difficult challenges and issues. Projects such as these can help young people overcome problems in their life by building their self confidence through sport.
“Sport can help to boost self-esteem and encourage team work by helping promote both a healthy body and mind. I am delighted Sean Fitzpatrick has visited the Urban Stars project in Ballymurphy and I hope the young people will continue this with a lifelong enjoyment of sport.”