We had the pleasure of being at the Belfast Hall of Fame Belfast Classic on Friday and enjoying not only some incredible College Basketball from some of the best young players in the sport but also the company of some Irish sporting legends at lunch in the Titanic Hotel ahead of tip off.
We first came across Sport Changes Life when they attended and spoke at our Sport for Social Good Event in Dublin this September. At the time the Founder of the Foundation was deep in planning and preparation for this event which deserved to get more of a presence down South.
Eight College teams travelled over to take part in this fully NCAA sanctioned event over three days at the SSE Arena. That involved 400 players and upwards of 2,500 staff and alumni from the colleges travelling over to Belfast and ensuring that hotel rooms over the weekend were impossible to find.
Maguire has been able to pull together a strong coalition of support behind the tournament. This ranges from the teams themselves through to the principal commercial backer in Aer Lingus and the US Consul General in Belfast Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau who was excited for the connections it was building between the two countries.
The University of Ulster was also a supporter and one of the colleges involved in a programme of Victory Scholarships which currently has 34 players from US Colleges playing Basketball here in Ireland.
That’s proving a real winner for Basketball Ireland who were represented on Friday by Secretary General Bernard O’Byrne and the clubs from which Tralee Tigers Kieran Donaghy was one of the guests of honour.
Rory Best came along, fresh from a training session with Ulster Rugby and there were a host of other Northern Ireland Sporting stars lending their support to the cause.
This year’s Belfast Classic was a step up on the first one held last year for four teams and support from across Ireland and the US means it looks like having a bright future. Certainly an event we will be keeping an eye on for 2019 as it grows and develops.
Here is a link to an article on ESPN which gives a little more background on the event and those behind it.