The team, made up of young players that regularly attend the Foundation’s Kickz projects in Salford, Trafford and Manchester, travelled to Belfast at the end of September to play a cross-community team of young footballers who are involved in the George Best Foundation projects.
The match took place at The Oval, home of Glentoran, and was a joint initiative between the George Best Foundation and the Manchester United Foundation.
The trophy was played for the first time last year, with Manchester winning on penalties after the second leg in Belfast. This year, the sides drew 4-4 in the first leg in Manchester in April and the MU team went on to match their success of last year by thrashing the Northern Irish side 6-2.
Barbara McNarry, George Best’s sister and Foundation secretary, presented the trophy to Manchester captain Austin Teesdale before both teams enjoyed a meal and awards ceremony hosted by Belfast City Council in the City Hall.
The George Best Foundation team consists of young people between 16 and 18 who are taking part in the Belfast Diverse FC programme.
The programme is run by the Belfast Community Sports Development Network, which includes various cross-community groups. As well as football activity, the groups take part in a wide range of workshops on issues such as understanding difference, alcohol/drug abuse and suicide awareness.
John Shiels, chief executive of the Manchester United Foundation, said of the coalition with the George Best Foundation: “When fans walk down Sir Matt Busby Way every match day and pass the United Trinity statue of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, you really feel the affection we have, and will always have, for George.
“His brilliance and his contribution to the Manchester United success story will never be forgotten. I know that these matches are very much enjoyed by the Belfast and Manchester boys, and they are certainly a fitting tribute to the great Bestie.”
Peter Shaw, director of the Belfast Community Sports Development Network, added: “These matches are a fantastic opportunity for all involved; it shows the power of sport as a way of positively changing young people’s lives.
“I would like to thank the Our SPACE project, funded through Belfast City Council’s European Regional Development Fund’s PEACE III programme, for providing the resources to help the young people embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.”