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eHoops Bringing Communities Together

9 November 2010

The University of Ulster is giving disadvantaged young people the opportunity to improve their sporting and computing skills in an innovative new educational programme.

The eHoops project, run by the Ulster Elks Basketball Club, corporate partners USNI Sport, the PSNI and Ulster’s School of Computing and Mathematics, is part of the Play Fair programme which is part financed by the EU’s Peace III Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the CAN (Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey) Peace III Partnership.

eHoops is for boys aged 16-19 to learn about multi-media design and sport and good relations.  These two academic modules are carried out along with basketball coaching workshops led by Ulster Elks international student scholars Ben De La Cruz, Ciaran Mac Evilly and Barry Drumm.

The 30-week cross-community programme is underway at Ulster’s Jordanstown campus, the Carrickfergus Amphitheatre and the Valley Leisure Centre.

Dr Deirdre Brennan, Coach of the Ulster Elks, said: “The eHoops programme is very unique. We are using a ‘politically neutral’ sport to bring two sides of the community together, not simply for sporting endeavour but also to open up new opportunities and widen access to those young people who may have never thought of pursuing an academic future.

“Through our partnership with the School of Computing and Mathematics and School of Sports Studies the young adults undertake two hours each week of eHoops courses which includes basketball coaching. They are given the opportunity to spend a further four hours being mentored by our International Basketball scholars in local community basketball sessions. The aim of this is to improve their team working skills, leadership skills, active citizenship skills and give them greater belief and self-confidence in their abilities.”

Dr Peter Nicholl, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Mathematics said: “In these times we want to offer young people the opportunity to be creators of branded material and not just consumers.  To that end, the boys will get to use the latest iMac PCs and software to produce their own branded identities that can be shared on the web. It gives them a great insight to the possibilities for entering Higher Education that they may have considered out of their reach.”
Notes to editors:

The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. 

It is responsible for managing two EU structural funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IVA designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG IVA, Western Scotland. 

The PEACE III Programme is worth €333 million and is aimed primarily at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society and promoting reconciliation. It focuses on helping Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland to reconcile communities and contribute towards a shared society. 

For more information on the SEUPB please visit 

CAN Peace III Partnership -
The three Boroughs of Carrickfergus, Antrim and Newtownabbey formed the CAN Peace III Partnership to deliver Priority 1.1 of the Peace III Programme: Building Positive Relations at the Local Level. In line with guidance issued by the Special European Union Programmes Body the Partnership has developed a Strategy & Action Plan, which has been approved by the Managing Authority attracting an award of £1,954,868.07 for the period to 30 June 2011.

For more information on the CAN Peace III Partnership visit

Play Fair Programme -
The Play Fair programme, funded by the CAN Peace III Partnership has made available funding of £83,500 across 5 projects in the CAN area.  The Programme is managed by Tony Morrison of Otium Leisure Consultancy.

The Play Fair programme focuses on encouraging sports clubs to use their sport as a mechanism to bring communities together, to address difference and to promote inclusivity.