Global boost for club thanks to Sky Sports

Alberto Balde (centre) with some of his Portadown Youth team-mates from the Google film.
Alberto Balde (centre) with some of his Portadown Youth team-mates from the Google film.

The name of Portadown Youth Football Club was broadcast into millions of homes this week via television screens and the internet.

A documentary on how Portadown Youth coaching staff used the Google Translate app to communicate with foreign nationals was released via YouTube last week - plus broadcast on Sunday’s Sky Sports coverage.

Screen time was booked for two slots during Sky Sports’ coverage of the Manchester United v Manchester City and Liverpool v Southampton games. The television showcase led to a major rise in internet views of the two-minute film.

The Portadown Youth social media outlets on Twitter and Facebook were flooded with messages of support - including those from Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and America’s all-time leading goalscorer, Landon Donovan.

Tim posted on Twitter: “No matter what language you speak, futbol is football is soccer. Glad to join @Google to share this AlbertosStory #vamosalberto”.

Landon’s tweet described the video as “proof that soccer and tech can break down barriers”.

It was a snapshot of the global response to the story of Portadown Youth support for Spain-born teenager Alberto Balde, who has become a target for professional top-flight clubs in England.

“It is amazing to think the film has reached so many,” said Gary Magee, a Portadown Youth coach at the heart of the film. “To have people the status of Tim Howard and Landon Donovan draw attention to our film is brilliant.

“Our social media accounts basically went into meltdown after the Sky Sports coverage and it was the latest surreal moment in the experience.

“The support from everyone has been wonderful and this is a massive boost for the whole town as well as the club.

“So many people put so much hard work into coaching and player development.

“Sky Sports put the story on to another level.

“It has been a crazy week for everyone and still hard to believe to be honest.

“The filming itself earlier in the year was something really special, with the Google crew so passionate and positive.

“The finished product has turned out beyond our expectations.”

The Portadown Times’ Twitter and Facebook accounts also received widespread attention in recognition of the original story.

More on page 55.