Syrian refugee brother and sister win GAA titles with west Belfast club Patrick Sarsfields 11 months ago

Syrian refugee brother and sister win GAA titles with west Belfast club Patrick Sarsfields

Great story.

In December 2015, the Soda family arrived in Northern Ireland after fleeing the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo.

Ahmed Soda was just 11 at the time and didn't speak a word of English. It was, understandably, an overwhelming time in his life.

After settling in Belfast with his family, though, he soon discovered the GAA - and fell in love.

Settling in with west Belfast club Patrick Sarsfields, Ahmed showed his coaches that he had genuine talent with a hurl in his hand. Helping the club to an under-12 trophy, he was tipped to be a future Antrim star by coach Ciaran Doherty.

And it looks as though his budding GAA career is continuing on an upward curve after winning a feile title for Sarsfields' U14 footballers at the weekend.

But it was a doubly proud day for the Soda family as Ahmed's sister, Renad, clinched a feile title with the club's U14 set-up.

Having made Belfast their new home, it's heart-warming to hear that the GAA has played its part in making the next chapter in their lives an enjoyable one.

Both Ahmed and Renad will now represent Patrick Sarsfields and Antrim GAA at the national finals.

This is a wonderfully touching story. Considering what Ahmed and Soda have gone through in their young lives, it's pleasing to hear that, not only have they found a new home in Belfast, they have been integrated into the GAA family.

Football, hurling, camogie: they're a huge reason why Ireland is such a proud sporting nation but, more importantly, they're sports that can be enjoyed by anyone and it's to Patrick Sarsfields' immense credit that they have helped Ahmed and Renad feel so welcome over the past couple of years.

Here's hoping for their continued success with the club and, in the near future, county.