Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Milk and Foyle cups an example to all youth

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

After a spectacularly successful Foyle Cup, it's the turn of the crème de la crème of the Milk Cup to take centre stage for another great week of youth football in Northern Ireland.

Two totally different tournaments but delivering benefits in much to same way to community relations, the local economies in Derry and up on the north coast, to the young people taking part and to the game of football.

Co-existing cheek by jowl, you'd think there might be tensions, not least territorial.

Yet there are lessons for the country at large in how two ostensibly rival interests, with differing aspirations, have arrived at an accommodation that allows both to prosper in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.

There may have been at one time, on the dance floor, suspicious glances cast back and forth over the perceived motives of one or the other. But once it became clear that neither posed a threat to its neighbour, the greater good was served as both independently flourished.

There is a place for them both in their diametric outlooks and appeal... the Foyle Cup providing a tournament platform for thousands of local boys and girls and the Milk Cup catering for the audiences who like to talent spot the emerging stars of the professional clubs who for over 20 years have used the tournament as a proving ground for some of the world's best. Both are a credit to Northern Ireland and to those who voluntarily run them.

Where there might have been a vacuum, we have a hugely productive shared space. And to think both tournaments started life as a means of getting kids off the streets. We could do with their example and message now filtering onto the streets.

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