Manchester United have given the thumbs up to a new competition for young players at next summer’s Dale Farm Milk Cup.
After the success of last year’s Inaugural Under-13 tournament, the competition’s organising committee have decided to build the category into next year’s programme.
Eight teams will participate in the new Minor section which will include league fixtures and a knockout format to complete the week.
Dave Bushell, head of education and welfare at Manchester United, has been attending the tournament for many years and is excited at the new development.
“It’s important to give players at this age the opportunity to compete in tournament conditions and we found last year’s trial run extremely useful,” he says.
“All teams will play five fixtures allowing them to compete against and hopefully make friends with many new acquaintances.”
Tournament chairman Victor Leonard says the Minor competition is just one of a number of developments his organising team have been considering.
“We are aware that we cannot rest on our laurels,” he says. ” It is vital that we continue to carefully review and revitalise the event to copper fasten its continuing success and long term future.”
Northern Ireland won the inaugural four-team U-13 event this summer defeating Manchester United 5-1 in the decider at Coleraine Showgrounds but Bushell insists it is as much to do with the overall experience for players as it is to actually come away with silverware, commendable though that may be.
“Once again the Milk Cup Committee are looking to the future and this new competition at a younger level will bring a youthful vibrancy at an age when the players have a real freedom to express themselves, show off their skills and play with a positivity, which should bring in the crowds.
“If last year’s matches are anything to go by, there will be plenty of goalmouth action and a glut of goals.
“I’d like to think that mums and dads will support their young prodigies in the correct way and whatever the result make sure that all concerned have the feel good factor.
“I am sure this venture will further enhance the weeks activities and the committee should be applauded for their forethought.”
The Junior and Premier sections in the Dale Farm Milk Cup will remain as they are, while there are ongoing discussions about other developments in the Tournament, details of which will be announced in the new year.
The Dale Farm Milk Cup will be staged from Sunday, July 26, to Friday, July 31, next year.