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Foyle Cup sees Down's kids take pride of place in big parade

By Donna Deeney

The Foyle Cup football tournament has marked its 25th year with a record-breaking number of teams from across the world taking part, including two Down's syndrome sides.

Breaking new ground for the tournament, the Oxford Bulls from Londonderry led the parade into Guildhall Square ahead of their game against Sion Sirens, whose players are also Down's children.

Pipers from Killen and District Pipe Band led players, coaches and parents, who have come from across the UK and Ireland, as well as Europe and America, filling every hotel and guesthouse in the city and spreading out into the county, as well as neighbouring Tyrone and Donegal.

Foyle Cup chairman Michael Hutton said: "The growth of the Foyle Cup is there on record for everyone to see.

"We continue to grow every year.

"We started as a boys' competition, we then reached out to the girls' football, and it is great now that for the first time we have disabled teams taking part."

Oxford Bulls manager Kevin Morrison, whose son Adam plays for the team, said: "When Foyle Cup invited us to lead the parade, for a second I wondered if our boys could do it. But our motto is 'Ability not disability', and the boys led the teams into the Guildhall Square, something I never thought I would see.

"We are trailblazers in the Oxford Bulls, this is the first time that the Foyle Cup has had a disability section.

"There are only two teams in it, but we hope next year there will be many more, which is how the Foyle Cup itself grew.

"They are so excited, and Keagan Taylor, our star goalscorer, has been up since 5am polishing his boots, so we are ready to go!"

Also participating are First Choice Soccer from the United States.

Coach Phil McNamara said: "This is our first time taking part, we are excited to be here and are looking forward to getting the competition under way."

A bit more familiar with the Foyle Cup is Gavin Doherty, coach with local club Tristars, who have had teams playing in the tournament since its inception.

He said: "We have a total of 16 teams taking part in this year's tournament across all the age groups.

"Getting the opportunity to play against so many different sides from so many different places is just fantastic. This is their World Cup."

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