Euro U-19 event tipped to boost women's game
The countdown has officially started for next year's Uefa European Women's Under-19 Championship finals which will be held in Northern Ireland following last night's launch at Windsor Park.
Eight national teams, including Northern Ireland as hosts, will participate in the prestigious 16-day tournament next summer.
Northern Ireland football is riding the crest of a wave after Michael O'Neill's men progressed to the last 16 at Euro 2016 and this tournament will reflect the game's growing popularity on these shores. Irish FA president David Martin said the Association is doing everything possible to promote women's football across Northern Ireland.
"As an Association we are committed to developing women's football and we see this tournament as an opportunity to grow the game at a local level," said Martin.
"I am confident that we will deliver the best quality under-19 tournament that Uefa have experienced to date. We have an effective local organising group and great support from government departments, local councils, sponsors and Uefa.
"We now enjoy a fantastic facility at the National Football Stadium and we now have a great opportunity for our girls, a great opportunity to demonstrate the association's organisational skills as we look to make future bids for events and a great opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland."
Guests at last night's launch included Sports Minister Paul Givan, Education Minister Peter Weir and Agriculture and Environment Minister Michelle McIlveen along with special guest Emily Shaw, Football Development Manager at Uefa.
Tournament Director Sara Booth said: "The Uefa Women's Under-19 Championship will be the first time an international female football tournament of this magnitude has been staged in Northern Ireland.
"The planning for this prestigious tournament is already well under way and we are looking forward to delivering a highly successful championship that will have long-lasting benefits for football across Northern Ireland."
The tournament will take place from August 8-20 in venues across Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland women's under-19s recorded an impressive 4-2 win over Cyprus at the Riada Stadium in Ballymoney yesterday.