It's time for something a little creative. Queen’s University Study Abroad Ambassador, Ashlyn Brisley who is studying abroad from Young Harris College in the USA has covered the Friendship Four Tournament in her own unique style.
There was a heavy, blue rope that closed off the stairs which read “Private” on a little sign in the middle. That was where the excitement began—with the receptionist instructing me to go through it. Belfast City Hall is a representation of the entire city as it is a beautiful mix of past and present that leaves you in “awe” from its floors to its ceiling. But I wasn’t there to gawk at the stairs or the artwork (though I managed to do it anyway), I was there for the media launch of The Friendship Four Hockey Tournament.
I have never been around so many important people and cameras. Big cameras on tripods went from one spot to another the entire event, while little cameras (like mine) snuck in every now and again to get a few good shots. It was a lot of hustle and bustle for a while (mostly to the tea and coffee station) but everyone came to a quiet standstill when Mayor Hargey addressed the room from the podium.
The Mayor of Belfast welcomed everyone then got right to the point: The Friendship Four Tournament is important. She brought forward a few business figures, stating that many important companies that hire a good percentage of Northern Irish people invest in Belfast. The Chairman of Tourism agreed that, economically, the games are beneficial and help bring attention to the city of Belfast. They placed the tournament on the week of America’s Thanksgiving holiday to encourage tourism and international travel to the event, which he said, “Is a showcase of all the great things Northern Ireland has to offer.”
However, it wasn’t all money-talk. It was also a moment that various speakers took to encourage education, not just in Northern Ireland but in America as well. Chairman of the Odyssey Trust, Eric Porter, along with the Mayor, hope introducing a women’s hockey tournament in 2019 will encourage young women to pursue higher education and, more specifically, careers in the field of science. Northern Ireland’s educated youth are in the top percentage of all European countries, bringing pride to the Mayor’s eyes. But she doesn’t want it to end there. She wants the youth of Northern Ireland to get every chance to travel, study abroad, and pursue every opportunity they can to become well-rounded individuals, which is why she cares to invest so much in education.
Hockey East Commissioner, Joe Bertagna, was nostalgic on the subject. He said when the tournament was just an idea four years ago that they, “were asked to provide meaningful games.” The meaning did not only come in the form of the relationship between the sister cities of Belfast and Boston but the want and the need to help each other in education, reputation, and spreading the love for ice-hockey. “In America,” he stated, “college athletics have shifted from education to education/entertainment, but we try not to lose sight of our value for education.” He hopes that over the years, this tournament will bring back the spark that young adults see in the entertainment of college athletics into the education behind it.
At the end of the day, it’s not about who wins the Belpot Trophy or who gets to ring the Friendship Four bell at the end of the tournament but about the good it does for two cities and the people they represent. So good luck to Yale University, Union College, Boston University, and the University of Connecticut who will all play at the SSE Arena over 23rd and 24th November. I’m sure, no matter who wins, everyone will cheer at the sound of the bell.
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Ashlyn Brisley - Young Harris College USA
Creative Writing | Queen’s University Study Abroad Ambassador |
Ashlyn Brisley is a creative writing major from Young Harris College in the United States who is studying abroad for a year at Queen’s. She is currently a Queen’s University Study Abroad Ambassador and will be sharing some of her experiences while in Belfast in a series of first-hand blog posts.
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