The Chairman of the Hughes’ Insurance Foyle Cup has described this year’s tournament as the greatest since the competition started 20 years ago.
Michael Hutton said that he was taken aback by just how smoothly this year’s showpiece went and even hinted that they plan to increase the number of teams participating to 200 next year.
“The one thing that Derry people do extremely well is hospitality and we did just that this week,” said Mr. Hutton.
“Every person I have spoke to this week has said how much they have enjoyed Derry and the people - Derry should be really proud.
“What Derry needs is 12 events like the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup - one for every month of the year. If we could do something like that then I have no doubt that the city would be a prosperous place to be.”
He added: “The Foyle Cup started in 1992 with eight teams. This year we had 164 and to be honest I was a little worried about how we would get on but it couldn’t have gone any better.
“With it being City of Culture year next year we would like to welcome some teams that competed here years ago like Werder Bremen and P.S.G. but we will need the help and support of both the Culture Company and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Mr. Hutton said that the quality of football on display this year was like he had ever seen before and added that the future is looking bright for local talent.
“This kind of competition is the bread and butter stuff for clubs like Derry City. The Derry and District Youth Football Association has been doing this type of thing for years and now other organisations from all over Ireland are following our lead.
“The money is no longer there for Irish clubs to go and buy players so they know that the only way they can survive is by focusing on new talent.
“Derry City Football Club know this and I have to say that I am very proud to see so many of past Foyle Cup participants playing for the likes of Derry City now.”
Derry City manager Declan Devine attended yesterday afternoon’s final round of matches at the Brandywell.
Devine, (38), once coached Derry City youth teams at the Foyle Cup during the 1990s and was full of praise for the work carried out by Mr. Hutton and the rest of the organising committee.
“The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup is a very important event in the football calendar.
“It gives young players from all over the chance to shine,” said Devine.
“I am in full support of what Michael Hutton is doing - it’s because of him and many others that young boys are getting their chance to do what they love the most and that is playing football.
“I have to say I was gutted when our Under 19s were beaten in their respective semi-final the other night.
“The Derry City Under 19s are such a talented bunch of players but many of them have been playing in the Ulster Senior League this year and four of them have lined out for the senior team too. I think tiredness got the better of the them but they should be all immensely proud of what they have achieved.”