St Malachy's kids turn to art to break the coronavirus blues

Six-year-old Jess McGarry's fine piece of artwork after being asked to design a new jersey for St Malachy's OB Youth FC in a bid to keep children busy during the lockdown

THE kids of St Malachy’s OB Youth Football Club have turned to art to help them through the coronavirus lockdown. The north Belfast club came up with the novel idea of inviting all their youth players to design a kit to celebrate their fifth anniversary – and the standard has been outstanding.

The young footballers have dusted down their easels and canvas and produced some stunning artwork.

“With the football season grinding to a halt we wanted to keep our players occupied as they come to terms at being stuck at home for the foreseeable future,” said club chairman Gary Vernon.

“Among many of our WhatsApp competitions, every one of our 330 kids were asked to submit a kit design to celebrate the club’s five-year anniversary and we hope to get this made up for the winning child’s squad.”

The last games the children played were at the start of March and with the pandemic still not reaching its peak, they could be stuck indoors for some time to come.

But it hasn’t stopped club officials from keeping the children and parents connected during isolation.

“Various coaches have been coming up with challenges for the kids, things like trick shots using footballs, socks and even toilet roll. We ran a 'Get to know your Team-mates' via a short quiz that their parents have posted for them on WhatsApp.

“Some age groups have got the kids and parents to video some skills they have been practising at home so that the kids will have this as a reminder of what they got up to during these difficult days when they are older.”

The club also compiled a short video thanking all the NHS staff for their courageous work and urging everyone to stay at home.

Vernon added: “The reason we are doing this, like many other sports clubs, is to remind the kids and parents they are part of the football community which at times like these can be really helpful. We are here for each other and really hope to see the kids/coaches and parents sooner rather than later.”

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