Rising stars will aim to wrap up Foyle Cup success
The 23rd Foyle Cup kicks-off today as teams from all over Ireland and Britain travel to the North West of Ulster for the ever-expanding youth tournament.
This year's competition, sponsored by Hughes Insurance, will see 853 games played over six days in Londonderry, Strabane, Limavady, Eglinton, Greysteel, Killea, St Johnstone, Buncrana, Cockhill, Moville, Greencastle and Burt.
Foyle Cup Chairman Michael Hutton said: "The growth of the Foyle Cup is a true success story for all of us.
"It has been amazing to note the ever-growing interest in this event which began as a one-day, eight-team tournament in 1992 and now has developed into a truly wonderful international festival of football.
"No matter where I go all I hear from family members is their pride that their son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin, grandson or granddaughter is playing in the Foyle Cup and how many people locally have booked time off work to come and see the event.
"The likes of Robbie Keane, Stephen Ireland, John O'Shea, Kevin Kilbane and indeed many of the current Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland internationals have played in our tournament.
"We also helped develop local players such as Darron Gibson, James McClean, Paddy McCourt, Dean Shiels, Daniel Lafferty and Shane Ferguson as well.
"During the month of July, when there is so much tension and apprehension about parades, it is great to be able to profile what we are doing to promote such good relations, by organising our own parade and witnessing all our youth, irrespective of creed, colour and religion, walk in a joyous and colourful celebration of happiness and togetherness, with parents and grandparents by their side.
"There can be no doubt about the respect that the Foyle Cup has gained over the years.
"Our economy has been in a deep recession for the past five or six years and yet the tournament continues to grow and prosper. This year we have 278 teams competing."
The Foyle Cup has 10 different age groups for boys and three for girls, including a senior ladies event.
This year's competition will feature clubs such as Celtic, Partick Thistle, Motherwell, Norwich City and Derry City while Everton America from the USA and FD Suomi of Finland will bring an international flavour to the popular event.
The Foyle Cup also allows local Irish League clubs to enter, with Glentoran, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Ballinamallard United and Institute among this year's teams hoping to taste success.