The Irish FA has won a prestigious UK Sponsorship Award for its innovative partnership with JD Sports.
The association and the leading sports retailer worked together to uncover young talent with the potential to represent Northern Ireland at future World Cups and European Championships.
Using social media and in-store advertising, young players at under 13, 14 and 15 levels were invited to take part in regional trials led by Irish FA coaches. As a result four young players are now a step closer to playing for their country and are part of the association’s performance pathway, JD Club NI.
The UK Sponsorship Award judges praised the Irish FA and JD Sports for the innovative nature of the partnership and the high levels of engagement across social media that helped support the campaign.
With strong buy-in from youth audiences, JD Sports has now committed to continuing to support the project for the next four years.
Peter Cowgill, JD Sports chairman, said: “JD Sports has been official retail partner of the Irish FA for almost four years now. During that time we have worked on a number of exciting joint initiatives that have helped shine a light on the excellent work being delivered by the association as well as underlining our position as Europe’s leading sports retailer.
“I am pleased therefore that the partnership has been recognised in this way and I look forward to continuing to work with the Irish FA on more dynamic campaigns in the years to come.”
Oonagh O’Reilly, director of sales and marketing at the Irish FA, said: “I am delighted that the Irish FA and JD Sports won this award for a campaign that really delivered. The partnership was successful in-store as well as online, but most importantly four young players are now benefitting from being part of JD Club NI and could one day pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland.
“I have no doubt that the next five years of this partnership will be just as exciting as we continue to work with JD Sports and our other sponsors to promote, foster and develop football for all.”