Dineen’s generous gesture shows true spirit of the Games

The Athens Fire Brigade team, winners of the Men's Division One final against South Australia Police, with some of their supporters. INNT 33-508CON Pic by Philip McCloy
The Athens Fire Brigade team, winners of the Men's Division One final against South Australia Police, with some of their supporters. INNT 33-508CON Pic by Philip McCloy

A local councillor showed the true spirit of the World Police and Fire Games by extending the hand of friendship to a group of cash-strapped competitors from Greece.

Deputy Mayor Dineen Walker was watching the basketball competition at the Valley Leisure Centre when one of the Games volunteers told her that members of the Athens Fire Brigade basketball team had so little money that they were having to go without meals.

Alderman Walker was informed that the team were given breakfast each day at their student accommodation in Belfast, but were then getting nothing else to eat until they got sandwiches in the evening. She was also told that some of the men on the team hadn’t been paid for two or three months due to the crippled state of the Greek economy.

Having been moved by their story, the big-hearted councillor enlisted the help of the PSNI to transport all 17 members of the basketball squad to Corr’s Corner Hotel where each of them was treated to a three-course meal.

Spurred on by the goodwill gesture, the team went on to win the 5v5 Division One final.

The Times found out about the Macedon representative’s generous gesture from a member of the public, who revealed that she’d paid the restaurant bill of more than £200 out of her own pocket.

“I am not seeking any publicity or any recognition over this,” the DUP councillor commented. “I just did what anyone else would have done if they’d heard their story.

“They’d come over here on a shoestring budget to defend their title and I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t have done what I did.

“We are all human beings at the end of the day and we’re all here to help each other on the way through life as best we can.”

The 2013 World Police and Fire Games, which attracted thousands of competitors from around the world, have been hailed “the friendliest Games ever”.

“This shows the real spirit of the Games. There are so many stories from the Games in terms of people helping other people out, and it’s really nice to hear stories like this,” a WPFG spokesperson said.