Foster: Milk Cup on the ball for tourism

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2012'30th Anniversary of the Dairy Council for N.Ireland Milk Cup Draw, at Blackstaff studios, Belfast'Minister for Tourism, Arlene Foster'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2012'30th Anniversary of the Dairy Council for N.Ireland Milk Cup Draw, at Blackstaff studios, Belfast'Minister for Tourism, Arlene Foster'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye

The Milk Cup is about much more than nurturing football’s future stars, Tourism Minister Arlene Foster has said.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Milk Cup gives talented young footballers from Northern Ireland an opportunity to pit their skills against the very best players representing professional clubs and National Associations around the world.

Speaking at this year’s Milk Cup Draw, Arlene Foster said: “Northern Ireland is fortunate to host a ‘world cup’ of its own every summer. The Milk Cup has been bringing young footballing stars of the future from all over the world to Northern Ireland since it was first established in 1983. However, the tournament is about much more than nurturing talent.

“The Milk Cup has a positive impact on tourism growth and economic development. The local and international media interest it generates provides an invaluable platform to showcase the scenic beauty of the North Coast environment where the matches are held.

“My Department, through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, is offering £35,000 financial assistance towards this event in support of marketing and event costs. We aim to develop, attract and support events which are capable of generating substantial visitor expenditure, visitor numbers and market Northern Ireland internationally.”

The tournament kicks off with an opening ceremony and parade of teams on 22 July, and over 100 games will be played the following week at 14 venues in the Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Limavady Council areas.

The Minister added: “Events like the Northern Ireland Milk Cup simply would not happen without the commitment and dedication of the hundreds of organisers and backroom staff.

“They are often unsung heroes and I would like to pay tribute to all involved for the time and effort they have put in over the years to make the tournament what it is today. I hope the participants in this year’s tournament enjoy the experience and that our international visitors will return to Northern Ireland again in the future.”