Royal couple enjoy kickabout at Windsor Park

William and Kate briefed on cross-community sport in Belfast

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, play football during a visit the National Stadium in Belfast. Photograph:  Kelvin Boyes - Pool/Getty Images

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, play football during a visit the National Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes - Pool/Getty Images

 

The House of Windsor paid a visit to its namesake home of Northern Ireland soccer, Windsor Park, on Wednesday afternoon.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Kate and William, on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, were greeted by senior members of the Irish Football Association (IFA).

They were scores of well-wishers also outside the stadium to welcome thepair of British royals.

The Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill also was at Windsor Park in south Belfast to meet the couple. He and Prince William took some time to talk about football.

In the stadium’s museum football legend Pat Jennings was on hand to show them a bronze cast of his large hands which made many a famous save for Northern Ireland, Spurs and Arsenal.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plays some football with young girls as she visits Windsor Park Stadium in Belfast on Wednesday. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge plays some football with young girls as she visits Windsor Park Stadium in Belfast on Wednesday. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The duke and duchess on a beautiful spring day were being shown around the recently refurbished ground where Northern Ireland plays its home internationals.

The ground is also home to Irish League table-toppers Linfield.

The duchess wore a red coat and black boots, the duke a blue suit, but the couple changed their footwear to join young people in some football practice at Windsor Park, both engaging in bout of kickabout.

One of the themes of the visit was the cross-community nature of football and how the IFA is pushing a “Football for All” policy.

The royal couple learned about the IFA’s community football projects, and how sport can play a role in bringing communities together.

They were being briefed about the “Stay Onside” programme designed to reduce criminal offending by young people. It is run by the IFA, the PSNI, the North’s Department of Justice and the Probation Service.

On a busy engagement they were also meeting the female football leaders group which was created in 2012 to encourage more women into key decision roles within football.

Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, play football as they visit the National Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes - Pool/Getty Images
Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, play football as they visit the National Stadium in Belfast. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes - Pool/Getty Images

They also learned about the “goals programme” aimed at young people who are not in employment, education or training.

They were also meeting members of “Powerchair”, who play the wheelchair specialist game and travel all over Ireland representing clubs in the Powerchair football league.

After their Windsor Park tour the couple were travelling to the Youth Village in Roscor in Co Fermanagh. The activity centre and residential centre run by Extern is for children referred to the charity by social workers or the North’s Department of Justice.

The couple were to due to talk to the children about their experiences and join in with some of the activities which include canoeing, archery, and indoor games.

On Wednesday evening they were scheduled to visit the music and comedy Empire Hall, a landmark Victorian building on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue.