FOYLE CUP Chairman, Mr. Michael Hutton, is expecting this year's tournament to defy the global recession and, once again, attract a bumper list of entries made up of some of the world's top football clubs.
Mr. Hutton was speaking after it was confirmed the competition would run in the Derry City, Strabane and Limavady Council areas from July 19th to July 23rd with organisers - the Derry & District Youth F.A. - expecting the rush for applications to exceed last year such has been the growth of interest in the event.
"When one thinks about the result the recession is having on spending power not just throughout Ireland and the UK but globally - it is remarkable to note that last year we had our highest ever entry of teams," noted Mr. Hutton.
"We would like to maintain this high level of entry and hope to reach our peak to coincide with our City of Culture year in 2013.
"Each year, the international appeal of the Foyle Cup is witnessed more and more as teams from far and beyond British shores travel to Derry to compete in the event – teams from England, Scotland, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, Canada and America have competed over the years.
"Whilst this interest is immensely important and pleasing, what is even more pleasing about the growth of the Foyle Cup is that more and more of our senior Irish League and Airtricity League clubs, recognise the opportunity being afforded them to prepare young players from their club to compete against top class opposition.
"These 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 at their senior clubs. In addition to attracting team entries from our Irish professional clubs, more and more leagues, north and south are entering representative teams. The standard of entry from Irish shores is certainly rising as evidenced by results over the past few years."
The tournament had its humble beginnings as part of Derry City Council's Impact '92 programme when eight teams participated in a one day tournament. It has grown year on year with 2010 witnessing an entry list of 144 teams taking part in a six day festival of football.
Each year as the number of teams entered has increased and so too has the quality of entry. Top Irish clubs such as Linfield, Glentoran, Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon, Portadown, Ballymena, Derry City, Institute, Lisburn Distillery, Dungannon, Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps in previous years have all done battle with the best that English, Scottish and European clubs could offer.
Mr. Hutton, in acknowledging the growth of the tournament, expressed his delight that the event is still not only attracting a high quality of entry but an ever increasing entry of teams. He also acknowledged the importance of sponsorship to the event.
"I know we, as an association, work extremely hard to make this event happen. To organise an event such as the Foyle Cup takes up an immeasurable amount of time, commitment and dedication, particularly when one considers that all the members of the organising committee do this on a voluntary basis. However, it would not be possible for it to take place without the generosity of our sponsors.
"In particular I wish to acknowledge the support afforded the event over the years by N.I T. B. Events Dept., Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, Derry City Council, Department for Social Development, Limavady Borough Council, Strabane District Council, Tesco, Firmus Energy and Derry Credit Union.
"We are under pressure though from government departments to raise more of our running costs locally and we would sincerely welcome any support which may be forthcoming from local businesses.
"The Foyle Cup really presses the right buttons for so many who want to positively profile their company – it is a family event which throughout the week attracts over 80,000 spectators and generates much positive television, newspaper and radio coverage," he added.
For more details regarding this year's event, or to download an entry form before closing date of January 31st, visit the tournament website www.foylecup.com To discuss sponsorship opportunities, telephone: 02871-359734.