University search is on for cream of Northern Ireland football
The manager of Ireland's World Student Games football team is keen to unearth new northern talent.
Next year's World Student Games will take place in Gwangju, Korea between July 3 and July 14. At university level, Ireland competes as one country and manager Danny Crowley wants there to be a strong northern influence in his squad.
Crowley explained: “We haven't set a date for it yet, but we plan to hold trials in Belfast, as we did before heading to Kazan last year. The trials are open to any high level footballers who are at college.
“We have a presentation planned for Dublin, but as it's on a Saturday afternoon, it's difficult for the northern guys to get to as they're playing for their clubs.
“I've a good idea of who the best players in the north are but there are always a few hidden gems out there and we're keen to unearth them. In the past, we've had difficulty attracting northern players but we want to have the best team possible with talented players from all over the island.
“I'm fully prepared as manager to travel to the north to watch any potential players in action. We're keen to hear from players who believe they're good enough.”
A number of well-known Irish League players have represented Ireland at the World Student Games in the past, including James Costello, Sean Ward, Jonny Addis and Corey Davidson.
Crowley said: “Sean Ward was our captain in 2007, while Jonny Addis played for us in Kazan in 2013. He was at Carrick Rangers at the time but he's now a regular at Glentoran. We like to think that we've helped players progress their careers.”
The World Student Games are held every two years and they're a major sporting event, with 199 countries expected to be represented in Korea. Some of the games in next year's football tournament will be held in the Daegu World Cup Stadium that hosted South Korea's famous World Cup quarter-final win over Spain in 2002.
Crowley said: “The World Student Games are absolutely massive, with something like 200 countries competing. They're second only to the Olympics in terms of size and structure. The facilities are incredible in the athletes' village and the canteen has food from all over the world.
“It's a great life experience as well as being a great football experience. The tournament is like a World Cup or a European Championships. Last year in Russia, we came fifth after getting knocked out on penalties by eventual winners France. I think that goes to show that we're not far away.
“At times funding has been a major issue for us, and three years ago we were unable to go to China, but I feel we're in great shape at the moment. It's full steam ahead for Korea.”
It's not just Danny Crowley who is looking to find new players. Sue Ronan is keen to unearth new players for the women's team who will also be travelling to Korea in July.
In a statement, Student Sport Ireland said: “Any male or female Third Level student footballers who wish to be considered for possible selection should be aware that Student Sport Ireland, who oversee the administration of the Ireland sides in conjunction with the Colleges and Universities Football League are inviting players seeking to be considered for selection for Games to register with the SSI office in the coming weeks."
SSI are also keen to appoint as Assistant Coach, a Goalkeeping Coach, Video Analyst and Equipment Officer. If you're interested please visit the Student Sport Ireland website for more details, at www.studentsport.ie
Belfast Telegraph Digital