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Cregagh Green to be twinned with Flanders Peace Field

17 Apr 2018
Young people from east Belfast are at the heart of a unique Peace Field Project (PFP) to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Organised by the National Children’s Football Alliance (NCFA), Cregagh Green is to be officially twinned with Flanders Peace Field in Belgium, site of the 1914 Christmas truces, where Allied troops and German forces came together to play football during a pause in the horror of war.

Designated a Field in Trust, Cregagh Green was also where the legendary George Best first kicked a ball, and during his football career, united communities across the city. And as part of the official twinning ceremony on Wednesday 18 April, pupils from three local primary schools will take part in a ‘friendly’ in memory of WW1.

Alderman Tommy Sandford, chair of Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee, who is attending tomorrow’s ceremony, said: “This is a very poignant way for the next generation to mark the centenary of the end of WW1; to reflect and learn about some of its history.

“It’s long been acknowledged that sport can be a uniting factor and it’s the same today as it was 100 years ago - and how fitting that this is happening at the very place where Bestie played football as a young boy. It’s wonderful to see one of our open spaces being adopted and used for such a positive initiative.”

The young people taking part in the twinning event will also be attending the Global Peace Games in Messines, Belgium, in September.

NCFA chairman Brendan Hanlon said: “More than 100 children will be involved in the twinning event which will evoke the spirit of the iconic Christmas truces football games in 1914.

“This is a wonderful way of bringing the community together and I hope that some of the young people taking part might make new friends and this could become a regular fixture on the local sporting calendar.”

Ernie Brennan, NCFA CEO, added: “There are many monuments commemorating war; the peace pitch not only commemorates war, but celebrates peace. Sport is a brilliant way to bring people from all different backgrounds together.

“There is no finer symbolic place than the home of George Best – one of the world’s greatest footballers – to designate as a peace pitch.”

A presentation by the NCFA is taking place this evening at Cregagh Community Centre.