The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, joined President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins on a tour of Glentoran football club on Saturday 4 June 2016.
Speaking at the Glentoran Academy Awards and family fun day Martin McGuinness said: "I was pleased to accept the invitation and see first hand the contribution Glentoran Football Club is making to the entire community.
"Although situated in East Belfast the impact Glentoran makes particularly to young people through their soccer academy extends far beyond the gates of the Oval.
"You only have to see the reaction of the sad passing of sporting icon Muhammad Ali to see the power of sport. Regardless of whether it is boxing or soccer sport teaches and instils the values of of hard work, commitment and respect for yourself and respect for others."
"We are all looking forward to a feast of soccer this summer and the progress of our soccer teams north and south will no doubt capture the interest and imagination of people young and old. With Michael O'Neill and Martin O'Neill at the helm we are in good hands and we must all get behind the managers and players.
"I thank Stephen Henderson, Chairman of Glentoran Football Club and everyone connected with the club. Society as a whole is and will continue to be a much better place as a result of the many hours of volunteering coaches and administrators are investing in our young people."
Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton said: "It is a pleasure to have been at Glentoran FC to share in the academy awards and family fun day.
"The sheer scale and professionalism of the Glentoran Academy is hugely impressive. The Academy simply wouldn't function without the efforts of the volunteers who are actively engaged and sharing their love of the game of soccer.
"Football and sport really unites people and I have no doubt the forthcoming European championship will not only create a buzz but will inspire future generations.
"The Oval is truly historic and nostalgic ground and I have no doubt any future development will benefit not just Glentoran and East Belfast but society in Northern Ireland."
Notes to editors:
Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
- Good Relations 2018/19 funding programmes now open 10 January 2018
- TEO statement on Storm Eleanor 03 January 2018
- Summit deepens and strengthens Northern Ireland’s relationship with China 04 December 2017
- Northern Ireland welcomes Chinese Regional leaders to Belfast 01 December 2017