Sir Alex Ferguson is coming to Lurgan to help promote a new football club run by his former player, Pat McGibbon.
The Manchester United legend will make his first ever visit to Lurgan on August 10, when he will watch the young footballers of TTBS Juniors go through their paces at St. Michael’s.
To land such an iconic football figure as Sir Alex is a major coup for the emerging club.
“It’s a massive boost to have Sir Alex come along,” explained Pat. “I sent him a letter hoping he could lend his support and I was delighted when he got in contact. I was actually driving through Lurgan and had just stopped at traffic lights when he called me to say he would come over.
“He likes the idea and the ethos of the club and he will come along to watch the coaching sessions.”
Pat’s primary aim of Train to be Smart is to focus on sport and education - it is not all about winning. The motivation behind it all came from a family tragedy. Only six months after Pat moved to Manchester United, his brother took his own life.
“Both Sir Alex and Manchester United were very supportive to me at that time,” said Pat. “I came home for three weeks but was told to take as long as I needed. My family were also supportive and knew that football was my passion and that it was what I wanted to do, and I went back.
“I had to move on to make a career for myself, but it did make me realise about values. You can’t all be winners: it is not all about the glory. I always talk about vision and focus - the vision is the dream of where you want to go or what you want to achieve, and the focus is how you get there.
“There was no-one more competitive than me, but you must be able to deal with the highs and lows. Football can be very rewarding but you always have to have a plan B. When it all stops, you go back into the real world and some find that very hard to cope with.”
The TTBS project will be a winner as it delivers a key and fundamental approach of giving young kids a road to good mental health.
After starting with about 26 kids, they now have over 150 attending their coaching sessions, at both Centrepoint and Lurgan Junior High School. Ultimately they would love to have their own home and with Pat’s drive and enthusiasm that shouldn’t be too far off.