Sinn Féin MLA Sinead Ennis and Senator Niall Ó Donnghaile have written to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to request a meeting to discuss the establishment of development structures in the North.
The Sinn Féin Culture, Arts and Sports spokesperson Sinead Ennis MLA said:
“I am calling on the FAI to develop structures in the north, in order to allow young players to engage with the FAI structures from the earliest possible opportunity.
“The FAI Emerging Talent Programme for example should be extended to the north to identify and develop young players who wish to progress to international level.
“Centres of Excellence should also be initiated and developed as part of this programme.
“There are young players right across the north who dream of emulating their heroes, like James McClean, Stephanie Roche, and Shane Duffy, by playing for Ireland.
Seantor Niall Ó Donnghaile added:
“We have requested a meeting with the interim of President of the FAI Gerry McAnaney to discuss the establishment of FAI development structures in the North.
“The next generation of Irish footballers in the North, both male and female, should have the opportunity to participate in the FAI development system from an early age.
“Sinn Féin are committed to ensuring that Irish citizens in the North have the same access as the rest of Ireland to FAI development structures and opportunities.
“We look forward to engaging positively with them and other key stakeholders on this important matter in the coming period.”