Reducing Offending in Partnership Signs New Team Player - Irish Football Association

  • 24 February 2016

Reducing Offending in Partnership Signs New Team Player - Irish Football Association

Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP) has signed a new team player - the Irish Football Association. 

The Irish Football Association will work directly with the agencies involved in ROP; Northern Ireland Prison Service, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, The Police Service of Northern Ireland and Youth Justice Agency to support people who may be at risk of offending and offenders, using sport as a channel to develop a range of skills.

Detective Inspector Mark Dennison, Police Service of Northern Ireland outlines how collaborative working of this nature will benefit local communities:

“The IFA already have an established outreach project team that work with football clubs, youth clubs, community groups and schools right across Northern Ireland.   So there is an established structure that exists which regularly engages with a diverse range of age groups and individuals.

“In the coming months, the IFA will be developing a bespoke programme of activity that ROP teams working across Northern Ireland will be able to access.  So for example if the ROP team based in Ballymena, felt that they had people who were at risk of offending or if there were offenders that want to move away from their current lifestyle, they can nominate a number of people to get involved in the IFA’s programme. 

“Through the programme they’ll learn new skills and have the opportunity to work with experienced people in the sporting industry.  The skills could be linked to coaching, teamwork or if they’ve an interest in personal training they may wish to focus on the fitness aspect.  Of course, it may be that the person just wants to play football.  If that’s the case, the programme will provide them with an opportunity to take up a sport that they really enjoy and get involved in a club or a team - that in itself is a really positive outcome.”

Claire Adams, Volunteer and Outreach Project Officer, Irish Football Association adds:

“Football is a brilliant sport!  People of all ages can come together, both on the pitch and off the pitch.  We currently deliver a number of initiatives that are all about providing ways for people to engage with sport and enjoy everything that comes with it.  We have the Street Soccer NI, football activity for the homeless, which operates in the Derry City and Strabane Council area, East and North Belfast, Portadown and Ballymena.  IFA also deliver a Community Engagement Programme, a six to eight week programme working with younger people, including young people who have been Hydebank.  The programme is tailored to the individual’s needs and includes work placements, education and working in the community. Through the network of local football clubs we also operate a volunteering scheme, which allows people to get involved in their community.

“At today’s IFA/ ROP workshop, we discussed with representatives from Northern Ireland Prison Service, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, The Police Service of Northern Ireland and Youth Justice Agency how we can develop a programme that can those involved in ROP and those involved in Football related offending.  We’re really looking forward to rolling the programme out in the coming months.”