Let the Foyle Cup Festival commence . . .

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography''Everton midfielder Darron Gibson returned to his native Derry to launch the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup 2013.

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography''Everton midfielder Darron Gibson returned to his native Derry to launch the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup 2013.

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I TAKE great pleasure in taking in Derry’s annual Foyle Cup Festival of Youth Football on an annual basis and I’ve a feeling that the 2013 event will to extra special.

The 2013 competition kicks-off next Monday and with record entries again taking part and I believe that this particular youth tournament will certainly live up to its billing an dplay a major role in the current UK City of Culture celebrations.

Championed by current Derry & District Youth F.A. chairman, Mr. Michael Hutton, and his organising committee, this local tournament may have lived in the shadow of Coleraine’s Milk Cup International tournament, but for me the Foyle Cup provides that very important platform where local youngsters will attempt to live the dream of one day becoming professional players contracted to top clubs..

And credit where credit is due to as those local players who have graduated from this tournament to go on and establish themselves across the Channel, haven’t forgotten their roots and indeed, returned to officially launch the event this year.

Former Manchester United and now Everton midfielder, Darron Gibson, was the guest of honour when the 2013 event was officially launched in the Tower Hotel.

And there, in close proximity, where former Foyle Cup players such as Paddy McCourt, James McClean and Shane Ferguson.

For me, their presence and their continued acknowledgement of what is a very special tournament, is so important for so many other local boys and girls who will participate in the 2-13 spectacular.

Add in the fact that there are very, very few beds available in hotels and guests houses over the duration of the tournament, and that tells you importance of this annual festival to the local economy.

As I’m sure most of you who support the event each year will realise, the Foyle Cup started back in 1992 as an eight team tournament which was completed in one day as part of the Impact ‘92 celebrations.

So fast forward some 21 years, and this year’s competition, which will run from July 22 to July 27, boasts a record breaking entry of 216 teams, with young players from all over the world participating.

It was great to learn that the Foyle Cup secured a main sponsor in Hughes Insurance so full credi to them and the subsidiary sponsors; fair play to all those volunteers who give of their time to ensure that each festival is successful and, of course, credit to all those supporters who come out on a daily basis to watch the games and cheer on the youngers.

I was also delighted to learn that a shortfall of £10,000 had been picked up by the Assembly’s Culture Minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, following representations from local councillors and members of the N. Ireland Assembly.

So now that everything is in place, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the weather gods will be kind the best of luck to each and every team participating in this year’s event.