Expanded format for all-island football initiative announced bringing together football champions, north and south, for a series of three matches
The Aviva Stadium is drawn as the fixture for the December 4th Champions’ Cup final
October 14th: Speaking after today’s launch of the 2021 Champions’ Cup at Windsor Park, Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock expressed his union’s pride in the initiative and hopes that the expanded format will facilitate even greater use of football as a vehicle to bring communities together and redress disadvantage.
“The Unite the union Champions’ cup promotes Diversity, Equality and Community and it does so through focussing on our common love of the beautiful game that is football. After an unavoidable one year hiatus due to the pandemic, we are relaunching the Champions’ cup in an expanded format. This year’s games set for November and December will see the leading teams, north and south, play-off before the champions come forward for an all-island final.
“But the Unite the union Champions’ cup is about more than just world-class football. The initiative seeks to celebrate our diversity, promote equality and build community – while also providing a focus for enjoyment and positivity. I’m very proud that this year again, Unite is providing significant funding for initiatives involving communities and schools in the catchment areas of the teams competing. This money is targeted at improving the lives and opportunities of those in greatest need.”
Unite Executive Council member Therese Moloney spoke at the launch, pointing to the recent STEM initiative under the Champions’ Cup launched by the union in catchment schools:
“Over recent months and despite the pandemic, Unite has been working with schools in marginalised communities in the Republic to roll out a new STEM education initiative sponsored by Unite. Today we will also be launching this exciting new initiative, combining technology, learning, football and fun, for local schools in the North.
“The unique educational resource we are making available to young people comprises six miniature football pitches together with 15 interactive robots programmed by the learners to perform tasks, such as playing football, helping develop skills in sport, maths, computer programming and coding. My own background is in science, so I am particularly excited by this initiative.
“While we are all looking forward to the prospect of the three football matches ahead of us – we can also recognise the value of the other aspect of the Champions’ Cup. It’s about more than a match – it’s about using football as a means to reach into communities and make a real difference.”
Speaking for the League of Ireland, Director Mark Scanlon said,
“Our League of Ireland clubs are really looking forward to this expanded Unite the union Champions’ Cup. The COVID-19 pandemic meant we were unable to host the competition in 2020 but the new expanded format is a direct result of the increased interest from our clubs and their desire to play in this competition. We are fully committed to expanding our relationship with the Irish Football Association and the Northern Ireland Football League and I know the players and fans from all four clubs will be excited by the return of this Unite the union Champions’ Cup and all will do their very best to win it.”
Conrad Kirkwood, Irish Football Association President said:
“This is really a exciting competition and, after a Covid hit year, it’s back and we are delighted about that. Its values of diversity, equality and community dovetail with that of the association. In Northern Ireland football really is for all. The game is strong on both sides of the border; I know NIFL is in a really good place, and I’m delighted to be embarking once again on this footballing journey with our counterparts at the FAI. A big thanks to Unite the Union too for its backing.”
Football Association of Ireland President Gerry McAnaney added:
“We are delighted to be here in Belfast today for the launch of the 2021 edition of the Unite the union Champions’ Cup. Our relationship with the Irish Football Association is very important to our Association and this competition further strengthens the bond between our Associations and our Leagues. I want to commend everyone involved with today’s launch and in particular everyone from Unite the union whose commitment to and passion for this Cup has been inspirational.
“The cross-community focus is to be applauded and I look forward to another successful Unite the union Champions’ Cup campaign and wish all four teams the very best of luck as they compete for this unique title.”