Posted: 1 week ago

School kids put NI stars Demi Vance and Kerry Beattie on the spot as IFA announce extension of Safefood partnership

Northern Ireland internationals Demi Vance and Kerry Beattie join pupils from St Patrick's Primary School in Ballynahinch to celebrate the extension of the partnership between Safefood and the Irish FA

NORTHERN Ireland senior women’s team players Demi Vance and Kerry Beattie visited St Patrick’s Primary School in Ballynahinch as part of the Irish FA’s Safefood partnership renewal.

Primary 6 pupils at St Patrick’s were treated to a ‘press conference’ where they were able to play the reporter and ask Demi and Kerry questions about their footballing journeys and how they stay healthy on and off the pitch.

They also got to take part in a Safefood ‘On The Ball’ workshop where the two players showed off their skills.

Safefood has now extended its partnership with the Irish Football Association.

The all-island body, with a remit of promoting the importance of good food hygiene in the family home and helping people make more informed choices about the food they eat, has agreed to work with the association for another three years.

The two organisations have been partners since 2021 with the aim of encouraging more kids to make healthy food choices and be active.

Through the extended partnership Safefood, which is the association’s official healthy and safe eating partner and patron of the Irish FA’s Education and Heritage Centre, is set to reach out to around 4,400 primary school children, parents, guardians and teachers each school year up until mid-2027.

It will highlight the importance of healthy and safe eating through its football based ‘On the Ball – Healthy Know How for Active Kids’ programme of activities and events, including Safefood festivals and Irish FA Tours workshops.

The programme is delivered in schools by Safefood representatives and Irish FA Foundation coaches.

Dr Gary Kearney, CEO at Safefood, said: “I am delighted to formally announce a new three-year partnership with the Irish FA as its official healthy and safe eating partner.

“At Safefood we really value this linkage and the staff at the Irish FA Foundation have put in tremendous work to ensure we reach children in schools right across Northern Ireland. This partnership is a natural fit for both organisations.

“Programmes like this are key to helping protect our children’s health by building healthy positive habits from a young age.”

Dr Kearney thanked Irish FA Foundation staff for their continued enthusiasm and “engagement with health at play and their dedication to this public health agenda”.

“Last year almost 5000 kids took part in the programme and we hope to build on that over the next three years with the association,” he added.

Claire Rea, Primary School Development Manager with the Irish FA Foundation, said: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Safefood. It’s an excellent partnership and it’s great that we will be working together for another three years.

“The On the Ball programme allows our staff to provide exciting games and activities that develop children’s physical literacy and ball familiarisation as well as provide interactive messaging that helps children understand the benefits of eating more healthily, keeping hydrated and better managing screen time.

“This programme has been very well received in participating primary schools, with teachers reporting a 98% satisfaction rate and an increased understanding and motivation among pupils to adopt healthier behaviours.”

For more information on Safefood visit