Ryan McBride Foundation aims to support, assist and inspire youngsters ahead of star-studded Soccer Sixes

Tue, Mar 19 2019

McBride assumed legendary status among the Derry faithful long before his tragic passing. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Following the passing of Derry City skipper Ryan McBride on March 19th, 2017, a foundation was set up in his honour to provide local youths with the chance to further their footballing and educational journey.

The Ryan McBride Foundation has three main aims: to support, to assist and to inspire young footballers in the city of Derry and throughout the north-west to be the best they can be – both on and off the pitch.

The Foundation has mentored over a thousand children at its popular Football for a Fiver camps and Primary Schools Program, provided Key Stage 2 children with private tuition.

It has assisted young people to obtain coaching qualifications and run a Second Chance Academy for 16-20 year olds. The Foundation has also teamed up with GAA star Oisin McConville to tackle gambling addiction in the local community.

To achieve their aims they have fundraised in a number of ways, including releasing a single, Captain McBride, by Glasgow band The Clellanders and sponsorship from both national organisations such as the PFAI and many businesses based on Foyleside.

On May 5th of this year the Foundation are holding the second Ryan McBride Soccer Sixes, which has been kindly sponsored by O’Neills Sports.

This family fun day, to be held at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium from noon, is not to be missed with face painting and many other forms of entertainment for children throughout the afternoon, including a magician and balloon craft.

Taking centre stage at the venue however is the Soccer Sixes featuring many local, national and international legends who have recently retired from playing soccer professionally with selections from Derry City, the FAI, the PFAI and Celtic.

The Candystripes will, once again, feature Eddie McCallion, Dermot O’Neill, Peter Hutton, Ruaidhrí Higgins, Kevin McHugh, Gary Beckett, Gareth McGlynn and Barry Molloy.

The Celtic selection currently includes Rab Douglas, Simon Donnelly, Jackie McNamara, Mark Burchill and Paddy McCourt amongst their ranks.

The PFAI, yet again, have announced a strong squad with the likes of Joey Ndo, Aaron Shanahan, Daire Doyle, Joe Gamble, Gary McCabe, Killian Brennan, Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien and recently retired former Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell.

Last year’s FAI team included Damien Duff, Kenny Cunningham, Kevin Kilbane and Wayne Henderson and it is hoped that a strong team will again take part.

Another side to pledge their support on the day is a Czech Republic selection which includes ex Premier League stars Tomas Repka and Roman Bednar.

As well as winning trophies with Sparta Prague, right-back Repka also tasted success at Fiorentina and played over 150 times for West Ham.

Striker Bednar won silverware at Hearts before joining West Brom. Both also have represented the Czech national side at senior international level.

Never before has such an array of talented players been on show in such an exciting and fast-paced format as the six-a-side provides. It’s a tournament not to be missed.

However, the action on the day doesn’t end there as the City Hotel will host a gala dinner in the evening time with entertainment from impressionist Darren Farley before an auction of sporting memorabilia.

All players will be at the dinner and previous year’s attendees include Phil Coulter, John Giles, James McClean and star of Derry Girls Jamie-Lee O’Donnell.

Sportswear company O’Neills are the primary sponsor this year and have been a long-time supporter of the Foundation.

Kieran Kennedy, managing director of O’Neills, which opened its Derry superstore in Waterloo Place last year, said the locally based international sports company was proud to be associated with the Ryan McBride Soccer Sixes.

Paying tribute to the work done to date by the Ryan McBride Foundation, Mr Kennedy said: “Once again a host of former football stars will be out in force to honour the Derry City captain who was held in such high esteem, not just throughout the city but by the wider Irish footballing community, and to support the Foundation set up in Ryan’s memory.”

He added: “O’Neills are literally part of the fabric of the sporting community not just in the North West but across the world and it is a privilege to support the Ryan McBride Soccer Sixes and Gala Ball 2019, which will without doubt follow the success of last year’s poignant event.”

It is hoped that the money raised throughout the day and night will form the basis of the funds needed for the Ryan McBride Academy – a project designed to give 17-20-year-old footballers a second chance.

Ryan himself only turned professional after a spell in junior football for Brandywell Harps, and the aim of the academy is to provide other young footballers with the opportunity to showcase their talents and possibly follow in his footsteps and one day turn out for Derry City – supporting, assisting and inspiring.

The Soccer Sixes will kick off in the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium at 1pm on 5 May, featuring Glasgow Celtic, Republic of Ireland, Derry City and PFA Ireland Select.

A limited number of early-bird tickets for the Soccer Sixes are priced at £25 adult, £10 child, £60 family of 4. Tickets for the Gala Ball at the City Hotel are priced at £60/table £600. Please contact the Ryan McBride Foundation on Facebook or Twitter for further details.