A LARNE man is set to play a major role in delivering the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) in Northern Ireland this summer.
Raymond Hill was part of the bid team which helped to ensure the province would play host to the prestigious biennial event in August.
The WPFG is one of the largest multi-sports events in the world, attracting tens of thousands of competitors and spectators from around 70 countries.
The Games will include about 60 sports at 40 venues across the province, including the Larne borough, and it is being billed as a unique opportunity to raise NI’s international profile, boost the economy and leave a lasting legacy.
Prison officer Raymond, who has taken part in every WPFG since the 2001 event in Indianapolis, USA, is this year involved in the delivery of the Games and will be responsible for overseeing 20 different sports.
And while his duties will prevent him form taking part as a competitor this summer, he is no less excited about
Speaking to the Times, Raymond said: “This is really the biggest sporting event that Northern Ireland is ever likely to host.
“Back in 2009, the Games were held in New York, and it has also been held in many other majors cities such as Barcelona, Melbourne and Vancouver. For Belfast to join the ranks of cities that have hosted the Games is a massive achievement and something we should all be very proud of.
“I have taken part in the last five Games and I can safely say that our sporting facilities are as good as I have seen anywhere. What’s more, some of our major sporting venues will be given an upgrade, which is very welcome indeed.
“While we have tried to spread the venues for each of the sports out as much as possible, most of them will be taking place in and around Belfast. But with Northern Ireland being such a small country, you won’t have to travel far to enjoy the Games.”
“Local residents can head to the Killylane Reservoir to watch the freshwater fly fishing event on Monday, August 5 and Tuesday, August 6. The cycling road race will also pass through parts of the borough, including Glynn and Gleno.”
Raymond added that the WPFG was a great chance to encourage more kids to get active, and to that end he has been involved in organising a WPFG roadshow event for youngsters across the province.
Larne and Inver Primary School was one of the school’s visited by this roadshow recently, and Principal Kirk Patterson said: “Kids from Primary 1–4 had a guided tour of some emergency vehicles including a police car and motor cycle, while Key Stage 2 pupils were able to scramble over an assault course and participate in some fencing activities. A fantastic time was had by all.” (see page 25 for full picture coverage of the event).
Speaking about the roadshow, WPFG chief executive John Tully said: “Hosting these prestigious Games in Northern Ireland gives the police, fire and prison services from across the world a fabulous opportunity to engage with our local communities and in particular our young people.
“It is our goal that pupils will not only be enthused to actively experience the World Police and Fire Games events but that in the long terms the Games will have increased mutual respect and understanding of young people towards the emergency services.”
The Games will take place from August 1-10, and are expected to generate up to £15 million for the local economy. An athletics village is being set up at Custom House Square in Belfast city centre.
For more information about the Games, visit www.2013wpfg.com or on follow the Games on www.facebook.com/2013wpfg