Football fever is in the Derry air as thousands of young soccer fanatics from across the world thronged the historic Walled City today for the O’Neills Foyle Cup opening parade.
More than 6,000 players, coaches, match officials and supporters took part in the annual parade on Tuesday morning which is the main highlight of the week-long international tournament sponsored by Irish sportswear giants O’Neills.
Teams from the USA, Canada, Finland, France, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland created a sea of colour as they paraded from the Ulster University Magee campus into the heart of the city to celebrate what many consider to be Ireland’s most popular youth soccer festival.
Record numbers of spectators were in attendance in Guildhall Square where the parade participants, organisers and sponsors were welcomed by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Michaela Boyle who praised all those involved in making the event such a huge success.
Addressing the massive crowd on the steps of the Guildhall, Mayor Boyle said the local Council was delighted to support the tournament and she encouraged the young players to savour the experience.
Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director of O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Ltd, the title sponsors, said they were delighted with the record numbers of teams and spectators attending the event again this year.
Michael Hutton, chairman of the O’Neills Foyle Cup, said what started out as an eight team, one day event in 1992 had grown year on year into an international tournament with 1,534 matches hosted across 34 venues in the Derry City and Strabane District, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough and Donegal County Council areas.
He acknowledged the tremendous support of all the sponsors, match officials, volunteers and community associations without whose help it would not be possible to stage the event.
Participating teams including Wolves, Sheffield, Carlisle, Barnsley, Altrincham, Hearts, Hibernian, Motherwell, Dundee and Partick Thistle.
O’Neills Foyle Cup is sponsored by O’Neills, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Tourism NI, Executive Office, Department for Communities, Seagate, Brunswick Moviebowl, Inner City Trust and Derry Credit Union.
Full Foyle Cup fixtures and results are available on the tournament website www.foylecup.com or on the Foyle Cup app.