Sligo U20 footballers to wear white ribbon in partnership against gender-based violence

Back 12/04/2022 @ 22:35 | mainnews | Sligo U20 footballers to wear white ribbon in partnership against gender-based violence

When Sligo’s U20 footballers take to the field in their opening championship game this evening they wouldn’t just be carrying the hopes of their county for sporting success but also an important message for men and boys about gender-based violence.

This comes as the result of a partnership between the next generation of Sligo footballers and the Men’s Development Network, which is the delivery agent in Ireland of the universally recognised White Ribbon Campaign which is as a symbol of men’s opposition to gender-based violence.

The White Ribbon Campaign is active in over 60 countries worldwide promoting healthy relationships and gender equity by educating and mentoring young men about issues such as violence and gender equality.  Men are encouraged to wear the ribbon to demonstrate their awareness of and support for the objectives of the programme to eliminate violence against women, safe motherhood, and other related causes.

The Campaign also encourages men to take the pledge ‘never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and gender-based violence’.

As part of the partnership, the white ribbon will appear on the sleeves of the Sligo U20’s playing kit and is already in evidence on its training kit. The player group will also be engaging with the Men’s Development Network to participate in education and training workshops that will model good behaviour for young men and boys.

Sligo U20 and St Michaels defender Ciaran McKeon explained that the decision to identify with the White Ribbon Campaign developed out of conversations held among the 40 odd players who first came together in December last to prepare for this year’s competitive season.

“Part of what we discussed, with the support and encouragement of our management, was how we could achieve something as a group that would create a wider benefit for our community. We are very fortunate to have a chance to play at this level, for our county, and to get the support we have to do so. We discussed how we could pay that forward to others and the idea of engaging with the campaign to speak to men and boys about ending violence against women emerged from there

Team manager Dessie Sloyan said that he and his colleagues in the backroom team were happy to support and encourage the players. “The U20 age category in sport is where we start to see those that could represent the County at a senior level emerge and it is the point at which players will be seen by their peers and those coming behind them as role models. We encouraged them as a group to embrace that, and to look beyond football and sport to be proactive with the issues in society on which they could have some influence”.

Colm Kelly Ryan, Head of Programmes (Training and Development) with the Men’s Development Network is delighted to partner with Sligo GAA. “The White Ribbon Campaign is about men being aware, taking a lead, being an ally, and encouraging and facilitating change. Sport is very visible in society, and we are very pleased to support this group of young sportsmen who are prepared to look beyond just their immediate sporting interest and take such a public stance on a topic of such significance. We look forward to engaging with the players as we roll out training workshops and other educational initiatives to build their capacity to support and deliver the objectives of the campaign and we hope to learn too from what they are experiencing as active figures in their communities