VERSATILE former Republic of Ireland international, Kevin Kilbane, has hailed Derry’s prestigious Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup tournament as a “massive opportunity” for local footballers to showcase their talents.
And with a plethora of visiting scouts representing top clubs from England and Scotland watching from the sidelines, the local festival of youth football continues to prove highly popular.
Commenting at the official launch of the 2015 tournament in Derry’s City Hotel this evening, the former winger, who now works as media pundit for both RTE and BBC, said he believed the tournament can provide an excellent pathway into professional football for local players.
Indeed, this competition has proved to be a major platform for local talent in the past with players discovered at the event in recent years including the likes of Shay Given, Darron Gibson, James McClean, Seamus Coleman, Robbie Keane, Stephen Ireland, John O’Shea, Daniel Lafferty, Shane Duffy and Shane Ferguson, to name but a few.
“It’s a massive honour for me to be asked to launch this tournament,” declared Kevin at the official launch.
“I am fully aware of the importance of this event to so many young footballers from all over Ireland and the part the tournament has played in developing young players for international teams north and south or the border.
“Young players in Ireland need a stage like the Foyle Cup in order to show people what they can do and highlight their talents. Taking part in this tournament gives them the chance to show scouts from England and Scotland and beyond that they have the potential to play at a higher level. So it’s a massive opportunity for the young lads,” claimed Kilbane.
The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup will be staged in Derry, Strabane, Limavady and in the surrounding areas from July 20th to 25th with a record 278 teams competing in this year’s event.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Elisha McCallion, in praising the efforts of the tournament organisers, also commented that it was appropriate that we had the honour of welcoming another Irish international player to the city this year,
“Great credit must go to the Organising Committee of this wonderful event, the Derry & District Youth Football Association, an organisation that not only organises the Foyle Cup but organises football for more than 120 teams throughout the year here in our Council area. This organisation is to be commended for it’s sterling work which is all done on a voluntary basis,” said the Mayor.
Young players in Ireland need a stage like the Foyle Cup in order to show people what they can do and highlight their talents. Taking part in this tournament gives them the chance to show scouts that they have the potential to play at a higher level.Kevin Kilbane
“Considering that the event began as an eight-team, one-day event in 1992, it is a significant achievement that it has now grown into one of the largest youth tournaments.”
Chairman of the organising committee, Mr. Michael Hutton, has been impressed at the growing numbers of teams taking part, particularly the participants from the Irish League and League of Ireland clubs.
“I look forward to this competition every year, but particularly this year. It’s interesting to note that in a time of recession our numbers are actually up on last year. In the past four years the number of entries have more than doubled – up from 132 teams in 2011 to an entry of 278 teams in 2015.”
Mr Hutton extended his thanks to the guest of honour, Kevin Kilbane who, he believes, is the perfect role model for all kids to follow.
“It’s great to have one of Ireland’s finest international players here launching the Foyle Cup event. Not only has Kevin had a wonderful club and international career in football, but he has gone on to carve out a very successful media career for himself.
“All of us who follow sport, appreciate his knowledge of the game not only from his past performances as a player but as an analyst on television and media.”
The chairman extended his sincere thanks to the tournament’s loyal sponsors.
“The Foyle Cup cannot happen just on account of the willingness of local people. We need sponsorship and I would like to thank all our sponsors, Hughes Insurance, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens Council, the Office of OFM DFM, Department of Culture Arts & Leisure, Department for Social Development , Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Seagate, Legea, Brunswick Superbowl, E&I Engineering and Derry Credit Union,” conlcuded Mr. Hutton.
For more details of draw see website www.foylecup.com or phone 02871359734