Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill has officially launched the 2012 Foyle Cup - the largest competition in the Cup’s twenty year history.
The competition, runs from July 16-21 and will feature 164 teams from across the world.
Michael Hutton, Tournament Organiser, is not surprised by the continued growth in the event.
“ I know that after the wonderful experience visiting teams have during their stay in Derry each year, they leave determined to return. The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup standards are exceptionally high and teams comment on how efficiently everything runs and how good the playing surfaces are.
“Each year, it is pleasing to note the growth of the Foyle Cup and as we head towards our City of Culture year, it is certainly pleasing to note the huge entry of teams competing this year. I know that Irish teams are reaping the benefit of this tournament.
“When one looks at the development of players in our own city alone and examines the number of young players now playing International football - all of whom have played in the Derry & District Youth League and Foyle Cup tournament - Shay Givens, James Mc Clean, Darron Gibson, Paddy Mc Court, Shane Ferguson, Daniel Lafferty, Shane Duffy and Eunan O Kane .
“Never has Derry had this level of representation at international level and make no mistake about it, there are future international players presently playing with Derry City FC in the Airtricity League.
“Our local players are not simply being assembled to play in a tournament but are reaping the benefits of many years of involvement and preparation put in by their coaches. “
Mr Hutton appealed for support from local businesses to ensure that this year’s event is the city’s best ever.
“With cut backs in government sponsorship, more local sponsorship is needed if the event is to continue in its present form. We are very much appealing to local companies to get behind the 2012 event by sponsoring an age group, match balls or player of the tournament.
“We are grateful for the support afforded the event over this year by Derry City Council, Limavady Borough Council, Strabane District Council, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Dept for Social Development, Hughes Insurance. Seagate, E& I Engineering, and Derry Credit Union.”