The National Stadium at Windsor Park played host to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who, as part of a special visit, were pitch side to witness first-hand the long-standing grassroots football community partnership between McDonald’s and the IFA.

The Duke of Cambridge joined IFA grassroots coaches, McDonald’s UK&I VP Gareth Pearson, and children from Fane Street Primary School to trial aspects of the new Fun Football programme which is set to commence in March and will see 250,000 hours of fun football delivered to more than 75,000 children from across Northern Ireland.

The programme is part of a UK wide initiative between McDonald’s and the four football associations and is set to deliver 5 million hours of Fun Football with more than 500,000 children involved.

As part of wider partnership activity, the coming months will see six community football days being hosted in Northern Ireland, including a landmark event at the National Stadium alongside the launch of the annual McDonald’s IFA Grassroots awards which honour the unsung heroes of the local game.

Gareth Pearson, Vice President Operations for McDonald’s UK&I welcomed the Royal visit:

“It was a privilege to be part of today’s delegation welcoming The Duke and Duchess to Windsor Park, the home of Northern Ireland football. We were delighted to demonstrate to His Royal Highness our upcoming football plans which will see more than 250,000 hours of coaching, inclusivity and support delivered to children from across Northern Ireland.”

Gareth added:

“Having worked closely with the football associations across the UK for the last 17 years, it was great to get the opportunity to showcase our work and commitment to grassroots football in Northern Ireland and beyond.”

McDonald’s is now the longest-standing supporter of grassroots football across the UK. Building on the huge growth of grassroots football over the past decade and a half, the next four years will see the introduction of new, participation-based programming which will deliver core elements of the programme between now and 2022.

Through ‘turn up and play’ coaching sessions and more Community Football Days than ever before, McDonald’s will provide children with the opportunity to try football for the first time, with the wider focus of the programme aimed at supporting accredited clubs and their volunteers to raise the standards of grassroots football across the UK, thus improving the grassroots experience for young, aspiring footballers.

For further information on McDonald’s involvement in grassroots football and to find out how your club could benefit visit or follow @FunFootballUK on Twitter and Instagram.

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