Two lifelong Glenmen will put their walking boots on later this year as part of a special Irish League charity challenge.
Gareth Brown and Chris Kirk will walk 210 miles around every Irish Premiership ground to raise money for the Sport Changes Life charity.
The lifelong pals have set themselves an exciting but demanding challenge this August when they 'Stride The Stadia'.
The marathon effort will see them walk a 210-mile route around every top flight ground over five days, both starting and finishing their trek at home, here at the Oval.
The pair were joined by Glens players Marcus Kane and Joe Crowe, and Jordan Williamson of Ballymena United at the campaign launch (see top photo)
Gareth Brown and Chris Kirk with Gareth Maguire of Sport Changes Life
Gareth told www.BelfastLive.com “I am a family man from a working-class area in Belfast who prides myself on being a good role model to my kids. It is important that they see me keeping myself both physically and mentally active and in doing so helping others; not just in my own community but other communities irrespective of who they are or where they are from’
This has been a tough year for everyone with the pandemic, so we just wanted to get outdoors and do something fun, that was close to our hearts and generating money for charity at the same time.
So, we are walking to keep active, talking to keep our minds well, laughing to keep our spirits up and getting to visit all the Irish Premier League football stadia across Northern Ireland! What’s not to love about that?”
Chris added: “I’ve seen the impact that sport has had on me growing up and from a young age it taught me about core values like respect, teamwork and motivation.
These core values are shared by the programmes Sport Changes Life offer in our communities. They work with young people with the sole aim of raising their aspirations to help them succeed and thrive, no matter what their circumstances or backgrounds are. As well as trying to involve all the Irish League teams we will be inviting local grassroots soccer clubs, youth organisations, community groups. local businesses and anyone who wants to help us raise our £20k target and spread the message that sport really can change lives.
We’ve already had some well-known faces and sports people send us good luck messages, so will be rolling these out over the coming weeks."
Gareth Maguire, Chief Executive of Sport Changes Life, said he was humbled by enthusiasm and determination Chris and Gareth have shown.
“Helping empower young people from disadvantaged communities to find the path to a brighter future is something Sport Changes Life is extremely passionate about. We’ve been established for over a decade now using sporting excellence, academic achievement and personal development to deliver a number of youth engagement programmes across the island.
Whilst current lockdown restrictions have been challenging, now, more than ever we see a greater need to improve the lives of young at-risk youth and the funds from this #StrideTheStadiaChallenge will enable us to roll out several exciting new initiatives, over the coming year."
Last year Gareth and Chris organised the ‘City Hall to Summit Challenge’ raising over £16k for a local mental health and suicide support charity.
This year you can donate to Sport Changes Life here STRIDE THE STADIA Go Fund Me page or Text STRIDE (amount) e.g. STRIDE 5 to 70085
The Stride The Stadia Challenge will take place from Tuesday, August 17 to Saturday, August 21. To find out how you can get involved as a team, organisation, business, or individual email firstname.lastname@example.org
DAY 1: Glentoran FC – Linfield FC – Glenavon FC – Portadown FC
DAY 2: Portadown FC -Warrenpoint Town FC – Dungannon Swifts FC
DAY 3: Dungannon Swifts FC – Coleraine FC
DAY 4: Coleraine FC – Ballymena United FC – Larne FC
DAY 5: Larne FC – Carrick Rangers FC - Cliftonville FC – Crusaders FC – Glentoran FC