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Friday 22nd April 2011

Old Firm Alliance

Twenty two Glasgow schoolchildren will accompany Rangers and Celtic players on to the pitch before Sunday's Old Firm derby

Twenty two Glasgow schoolchildren will accompany Rangers and Celtic players on to the pitch before Sunday’s Old Firm derby at Ibrox to mark the commitment by the clubs to a flagship partnership designed to build and develop stronger integrated communities.

The children from Garscadden Primary and St Brendan’s Primary will also visit the Rangers Study Centre at Ibrox Stadium for an anti-sectarian workshop.

Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs today reaffirmed their commitment to the Old Firm Alliance partnership.

The Old Firm Alliance - a collaborative venture between Rangers, Celtic and Glasgow City Council - was launched in 2005 as a programme which reached 144 Primary Schools across the City. Using a combination of free football and workshops on health, sectarianism, diversity and equality, this flagship programme has now reached over 25,000 primary school children since its launch.  

The results have been extremely encouraging with 94% of children involved showing a significant increase in knowledge of sectarianism/territorialism issues while 97% of teachers thought role model Old Firm coaches were key to instigating lifestyle change in children.

Since then, the Clubs have recognised the multi dimensional nature of issues such as sectarianism and equality and that to truly make a difference, a coordinated approach which impacts territorialism, education, employability and health is the only realistic long term solution. 

The Clubs have therefore continued to develop their partnership approach with the launch of initiatives such as the Old Firm Alliance Street Football which is a diversionary programme which has a marked impact on reducing levels of youth disorder in some of the most difficult to reach communities. Further afield, the Old Firm Alliance was launched in Belfast 2 years ago in partnership with The International Fund for Ireland.  

Again with a focus on improving health and cross community relations, the programme has been applauded by community groups and agencies throughout Belfast.

There are a number of other initiatives which have used the catalyst of the two Clubs to regenerate our local communities including programmes on Employability, Education and Adult Health. None of these would be possible without the funding partnerships that have recognised the wider role of the Clubs within community regeneration, particularly Glasgow City Council, Local Area Committees, Employability Agencies and Health Care Partnerships.

Rangers Chief Executive Martin Bain commented: “Rangers Football Club is totally committed to the Old Firm Alliance project and initiatives like these can make a positive difference to children in Glasgow and the wider community.

“Both clubs have the power to educate through football and we are delighted to reaffirm our support for the project today. The Old Firm Alliance has been a huge success since its launch in 2005 and over 25,000 primary school children have now benefited from top class coaching and classroom sessions from staff at Rangers and Celtic.

“The project has undoubtedly influenced the attitudes of young people on important issues like health and anti-social behaviour and we will continue the good work in this area this weekend and beyond.”

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell commented: “As a Club open to all since its formation in 1888, Celtic is proud to promote the important principles of inclusion and diversity.

“The Old Firm Alliance is a great initiative, one we are fully supportive of and one which we believe has made a real impact to the lives of thousands of young people. Celtic has always been more than a football club and we will continue at all times to work within the wider community to ensure that football is a force for good.”