NI football stars launch initiative to tackle online abuse

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A new educational platform to help young people tackle online harassment and abuse in sport has been launched by former Northern Ireland football internationals Aaron Hughes and Keith Gillespie.

BT has teamed up with the Irish FA and non-profit organization Cybersmile to launch the Hope United Roadshows in Armagh and Greenisland, which provide young people with content from the new platform and offer them a football masterclass.

The modules are available to everyone, free of charge, starting Monday at cybersmileeducation.org/cat/roadshow.

The platform includes three modules focused on developing users and educating them on how to be good digital citizens.

The modules include content specific to each FA team across the UK, including Jamal Lewis from Northern Ireland, Harry Kane from England, Helen Ward from Wales and Lana Cleland from Scotland, as they discuss their personal experience of online hate and abuse.

Newcastle United’s Jamal said: “Some people think that as footballers we should be able to deal with abuse on social media, that it’s ‘part of the job’.

“But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“That’s why it’s so important to show young people that a post or comment doesn’t just live online, but can have a lasting impact.

“The Hope United Roadshow allows us to start that conversation with the next generation of players in Northern Ireland and across the UK.”



Football legend, Keith Gillespie at Armagh City Football Club with young players Pauric McShane, Enda Smyth, Aodhn Carson and Shae McManus” content=”https://i2-prod.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/article23084287.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_JS257645045.jpg”/>
Football legend, Keith Gillespie at Armagh City Football Club with young players Pauric McShane, Enda Smyth, Aodhn Carson and Shae McManus

Keith Gillespie added: “It is high time society did more to tackle abuse on social media and I am so proud to be involved in today’s launch of BT and Cybersmile.

“The new platform will help children know how to deal with online abuse.”

Aaron Hughes said: “Initiatives like the Hope United Roadshow will play an important role in ensuring children grow up with positive online behaviors and know how to deal with online abuse.”

Pete Jeavoirs, Director of Marketing Communications at BT, said: “Working alongside Cybersmile has allowed us to continue the vital work that Hope United started last year: tackling the online hate and cyberbullying that is unfortunately part of everyday.

“We are also extremely pleased to further support grassroots football communities across the UK as part of our long-term partnerships with the four UK Home Nations Football Associations to develop millions of players. , coaches and fans.”



<a class=Football legend, Keith Gillespie watching the new education website with young player Pauric McShane” content=”https://i2-prod.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/article23084284.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_JS257645018.jpg”/>
Football legend, Keith Gillespie watching the new education website with young player Pauric McShane

Scott Freeman, Cybersmile Foundation Chief Executive, said: “Everyone at Cybersmile is proud and delighted to be working with BT to educate and positively impact young people across the UK on a range of key issues.

“Cybersmile believes that education and awareness are key to changing behaviors and potentially saving lives, which is what this initiative was designed to do.”

Hope United tours continue over the next few weeks across the rest of the UK, with two events each in Scotland, Wales and England.

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