SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has welcomed a decision by Tourism Northern Ireland to award funding of £20,000 to secure the future of the Foyle Cup.
Organisers were recently told that the Tourism Events Sponsorship Scheme budget was “not sufficient” to fund the event, sparking fears for the future of the competition. Foyle Cup Chairman Michael Hutton stated that the 2016 competition would not go ahead if a solution was not found.
Following representations to the Minister for Enterprise Arlene Foster, Mr Eastwood has been told that a decision has now been made by Tourism NI to award £20,000 to the event.
“Confirmation of this funding is a very welcome relief as it secures the immediate future of what is a flagship annual sporting event in our city,” he said.
“Having questioned the Minister on why funding was not granted to this event - which is vitally important to the tourism industry in the North West – I am delighted at this decision. Thousands of young people, coaches, parents and spectators flood into our city year after year to be a part of this fantastic event.”
Mr Eastwood said that as a result of this influx, the Foyle Cup provides a major boost to local businesses and is a perfect opportunity to showcase the region.
He said: “It is incredible that the Foyle Cup should find itself facing a funding black hole and I’m glad that the Minister and Tourism NI have righted this wrong.
“The competition also brings tremendous benefit to the development of grass roots football and Irish football in general. Players of the ilk of Robbie Keane, Stephen Ireland, John O’Shea and Kevin Kilbane as well as local talent such as Darron Gibson, Shay Given, James McClean, Daniel Lafferty, Paddy McCourt and Seamus Coleman all blossomed into household names after playing in the competition, which always attracts a huge number of scouts searching for the next big star.”