The chairman of the Foyle Cup Michael Hutton has said it has been a privilege to witness the huge success of this year’s O’Neills Foyle Cup tournament.
Mr Hutton told the Journal it was a personal privilege for all those involved in organising the tournament to see how well it was turning out.
Around 6,000 young players, coaches, referees and officials have arrived from across Ireland, Britain, Europe, the US and Canada for fixtures right across Derry, Donegal, Limavady, Strabane, Dungiven and beyond, with a huge economic spin off for the region.
Mr. Hutton said: “It’s been an amazing experience and a privilege to be involved in organising the O’Neills Foyle Cup tournament. An immense amount of time has been put into the preparation of the event and when you see the way it is rolling itself out there is not one minute of that time you would regret.
“It’s great to invite so many people to the North West, so many visitors and so many teams, and I know they are all having a really positive experience. There is a general feeling of people being privileged to be involved. There’s a burning pride coupled with a burning passion for the young people and our city and district and the wider region. It’s demanding and time consuming but when you look at the joy on the kids faces there’s that feeling of real, deep pride for all of us involved in organising the event.”
The standard of entry this year has been the best ever, he said, with matches being played out on playing surfaces that are “top class”.
Mr Hutton said the tournament was rescheduled as it would have traditionally occurred last week, when the Open was staged, but organisers wanted to ensure the region reaped the economic benefits of both events. The Foyle Cup alone has brought around 13,500 full board bookings, and an overall economic boost of £2m-£3m.
“The businesses are obviously reaping the benefits and I’m delighted the hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, amusements centres are so busy during the week.”
Mayor Michaela Boyle, addressing the thousands gathered following the Foyle Cup parade on Tuesday, paid tribute to the work of Mr. Hutton, the Derry and District Youth FA, the match referees and volunteers “without whom this tournament wouldn’t be possible”.
“I hope you enjoy the games and make memories this week that will last a lifetime,” she said.
Foyle Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion described the Foyle Cup is the “jewel in the sporting crown in the north west”. “It is an excellent showcase for the huge wealth of sporting talent in the north west and gives young people an opportunity to play against some of the best young players around,” she said.