Aston Villa Goalkeeper and coach Shay Given has hailed Derry’s prestigious Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup tournament as a “massive opportunity” for local footballers to showcase their talents.
Commenting at the official launch of the 2014 international youth competition at City Hotel on Monday the former Republic of Ireland international goalkeeper – who once starred in the local league with the Derry & District with Townsend Youth – believes the tournament can become an excellent pathway into professional football.
And the competition has certainly proved to be a major platform for local footballers in the past.
Former players discovered at the event include the likes of Seamus Coleman, Robbie Keane, Stephen Ireland, John O Shea to name but a few, Given who has represented Celtic, Man City, Newcastle, Aston Villa, heaped praise on the tournament for building a platform for so many players to launch their career at both club and international level
“It’s a massive honour for me to be asked to launch this tournament,” said Shay.
“I know of the importance of this event to so many young footballers from all over Ireland and the part it has played in developing young players for International teams North and South.
“Young footballers in the city don’t have that many chances to show people what they can do and highlight their talents. Taking part in the Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup gives them the chance to show scouts from England and Scotland that they can play at a higher level. So it’s a massive opportunity for the young lads.
“I know how highly former colleagues of mine in the Republic of Ireland International team feel about this event as it was their passport into International football – players such as Robbie Keane, John O Shea, Liam Millar, Andy Reid, Richard Dunne, Stephen Ireland, Damien Duff, to name but a few.“
The Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup tournament will take place in the Derry, Strabane and Limavady Council and surrounding areas from July 21-26 with a record 220 teams competing in this year’s event – 668 games will be played over just six days, providing a true festival of football in the area.
With finals at Derry City’s Brandywell, Institute’s Riverside Stadium, Limavady United’s Showgrounds and local junior clubs Ardmore’s superb pitch, all players can aspire to playing in front of large crowds at the climax of the week.
Considering that the Foyle Cup began as an eight-team, one-day event in 1992, it is a significant achievement that it has now grown into one of the largest youth tournaments.