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Lord Mayor gets her skates on as Friendship Four fever takes over city

22 Nov 2017
A special group of young people from Boston were given anything but a frosty welcome to Belfast today (Wednesday 22 November) when they took to the ice at the SSE Arena on the eve of the third annual NI Connections Friendship Four Ice Hockey tournament.

Eight young people aged 13-15 years old from disadvantaged areas of Boston arrived in the city to take part in the ‘Boston to Belfast Youth Empowerment Programme’ organised by Forever Friends International.

This programme adds a new dimension to the sister city relationship that exists between Belfast and Boston. It aims to promote cross-cultural awareness, education, leadership development, friendship, and respect between and among inner-city youth in both cities.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister laced up her skates and glided onto the ice to meet the young people from Boston and offer them a warm welcome to Belfast.

Speaking about stepping out on the ice, Councillor McAllister said: “It’s fantastic to share the ice with such a wonderful group of young people. They are a talented group who are very excited to be in Belfast and experience all the city has to offer.

“My theme for my year in office is ‘Global Belfast’ and the sister city relationship that we share with Boston offers an ideal opportunity for us to showcase our city as an open and welcoming place for people to work, live and visit. I’m delighted that these young people are experiencing at first hand the benefits of our close connection with Boston.”

She added: “With the first game of the NI Connections Friendship Four just around the corner, the city is buzzing with excitement and I hope we can give these young people a big Belfast welcome during their time here.”

The NI Connections Friendship Four was the first working outcome of Belfast and Boston’s Sister Cities relationship. Belfast City council is a key funder of the games, which attract thousands of spectators who want to witness competitive action between US colleges from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

This Thanksgiving weekend teams from Clarkson University, RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Providence College and The University of Maine will battle it out for the coveted Belpot Cup.

This is an exciting year for Belfast as the city will also host the first ever competitive US college basketball tournament outside America on 1 and 2 December 2017 at the SSE Arena. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic is presented by the Sport Changes Life (SCL) Foundation and its partner the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).

For tickets and more information on the NI Connections Friendship Four visit www.friendshipfour.com
Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister takes a shot at goal in the SSE Arena during her meet up with young people from Boston taking part in the ‘Boston to Belfast Youth Empowerment Programme.’ Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister took to the ice at the SSE Arena alongside William and Joselin from Boston who are taking part in the ‘Boston to Belfast Youth Empowerment Programme.’ Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister is pictured alongside the mentors and young people taking part in the ‘Boston to Belfast Youth Empowerment Programme’ as well as representatives from the NI Connections Friendship Four, Belfast Giants and Belfast City Council.