TWO local stars of last summer’s Northern Ireland Milk Cup have signed up on a course designed to enhance their potential.
Mark Megarry and Brendan Glackin registered for one of the most beneficial aspects of the Bertie Peacock Foundation Award, provided by the Ulster Sports Academy at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus.
Mark, a member of the County Tyrone Premier team and County Antrim Junior Brendan enjoyed their first visit as they commenced part of the programme made possible by the Foundation, launched following the death of Milk Cup stalwart and former Northern Ireland and Celtic captain Bertie Peacock in 2004.
The Bertie Peacock Award goes to the County player of the tournament in both the Junior and Premier sections of the Milk Cup.
The winners of this prestigious award are decided after match officials vote for the man of the match in every game played during the week.
The player from the Northern Ireland County teams with most votes is named the County Player of the Tournament and Bertie Peacock Award winner in the Premier and Junior categories.
Both Brendan and Mark, who played for their teams in the this year’s finals against Everton and Manchester United respectively, were presented with their trophies at Ballymena Showgrounds on the might of the finals and have also received some football training kit.
The players are also enrolled for a number of courses over a 12-month period at the University of Ulster, covering topics such as fitness, nutrition, recovery and rehabilitation which will further their ambitions of becoming a better, all round sportsman and athlete.
“The Foundation perpetuates the memory of one of the Milk Cup’s founding fathers, former Celtic captain and Northern Ireland international Bertie Peacock who was also coach of the national team on two occasions,” explains Roger Dallas, one of its trustees.
“It embodies Bertie’s passion for youth football and its development and encouragement and exists to promote health and education among young people and we are using football to achieve that goal.
“Down the years we have had several programmes in place, sending young people to Dutch club Feyenoord and Manchester United for training, as well as initiatives where local charities in Northern Ireland have benefited from sporting equipment provided by the Foundation.”
Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard believes the Bertie Peacock Bursary is an exciting opening for young Ulster players: “Bertie was a tireless campaigner for youth football across the Province and our committee members feel this award is the most fitting way we can perpetuate his memory.
“We have received highly positive reports from previous winners about the University course and I believe the boys will benefit greatly from it,” he added.