Rangers FC and council join forces to launch Football Mentorship Programme for young people across Newtownabbey

A football mentorship initiative has been organised by Rangers Football Club for young people aged between 11-17 from across Antrim and Newtownabbey.

The 12-week cross-community scheme is being funded by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

On completion of the course, 36 participants will be invited to travel to either Glasgow or Dublin to watch a football or GAA match.

The local authority will provide £20,000 for the pilot programme, which – if successful – will be included in the PEACEPLUS Action Plan.

Ald Stephen Ross and Cllr Paul Dunlop with Nathan Hanley, Rangers Soccer Academies Manager (NI) and Gary Gibson, Head of Soccer Academies and International Relations at Rangers FC.

The Scottish club already provides an “advanced” soccer centre at Allen Park in Antrim which involves around 100 young players on a weekly basis for those who are viewed as “having the ability to further develop their potential”.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Ald Stephen Ross said: “The council is delighted to be working alongside Rangers FC to deliver this programme.

“The club does fantastic work when it comes to community engagement and has had great success working with other partners across Northern Ireland and beyond.

“The Rangers global brand will attract young people and incentivise them to get involved in this terrific scheme.”

Rangers Soccer Academies Manager (NI) Nathan Hanley said the club was “extremely pleased” to be partnering with the council on this programme.

He added: “A lot of hard work has gotten us to this point, and we must thank the council for their support. We look forward to getting on the ground, meeting the young people, and making a difference.”

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A council spokesperson confirmed that more details about the pilot programme will be made available at a later date.