The Irish Football Association welcomed a host of guests to Windsor Park on Thursday night to launch the 2017 finals of the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship which will be played at venues across Northern Ireland.
Eight national teams, including Northern Ireland as hosts, will participate in the prestigious 16-day tournament next summer.
Guests at the 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.
The event at the stadium included the unveiling of the tournament mascot.
The Irish FA believes hosting such a major youth finals tournament will showcase Northern Ireland at its best, including our football, our facilities, our culture, our history, our fans and our unconditional love of the game.
Irish FA President David Martin said: “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.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
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.”