More schools than ever have registered for Danske Bank boys’ and girls’ U18 and U16 schools’ cup competitions with the Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association, it has been revealed.
The Boys’ U16 Schools’ Cup is now the largest football competition of its kind in Northern Ireland, with 88 schools battling it out for the trophy in the 2023-24 season.
It’s a testament to the growing enthusiasm for the competition among teachers and pupils across Northern Ireland, according to Robert McVeigh, the chairman of NISFA.
He pointed out: "I am pleased that Danske Bank is expanding its interest in schools' football by adding the U16 boys’ competition to its sponsorship.
“It is encouraging that a record number of schools have entered the various competitions. I hope all participants, including players, coaching staff, referees, spectators, and those with an interest, can enjoy their involvement and will emerge with many positive memories.”
He said the growth of the Danske Bank Schools' Cup competitions underscores the significant role that schools' football plays in Northern Ireland’s sporting landscape.
And he added: “We would like to thank Danske Bank for its continued support. With a focus on nurturing talent, promoting teamwork and instilling a sense of sportsmanship, these competitions have become a cornerstone for young athletes to showcase their skills and passion for the game.
“In Michael O’Neill’s latest senior international men’s squad, no fewer than 15 of the 25 players were involved in NISFA-run tournaments or teams when they were students.”
NISFA expressed gratitude to all schools, players, coaching staff, referees, sponsors and supporters who have contributed to making the competitions a resounding success.
The launch of the 2023-24 competitions was held at Dungannon Integrated College with captains from the school’s teams. Earlier this year the school won the U18 Schools’ Cup (boys) for the very first time.
David Moore, Digital Learning and Wellbeing Consultant at Danske Bank, said: “At Danske Bank helping local people and communities thrive is one of our passions as a Northern Irish business.
“One way we do that is through our youth sports sponsorships, and supporting the Northern Ireland Schools’ Football Association, alongside Ulster Schools’ Rugby and Ulster Schools’ GAA, is a key part of that.”
He revealed it is the bank’s ninth year of partnership with NISFA.
And he added: “It’s been fantastic to see the competitions grow year on year. It’s clear to us that our partnership is more than a game, and extends to great friendships, real dedication and growing talent for these young men and women playing.
“We’re looking forward to another brilliant season of schools’ football and would like to wish all schools taking part the best of luck.”
The qualifying rounds in the various competitions are under way. The finals will be held in March.
Image: At the launch of the Danske Bank U18 and U16 schools’ cup competitions were NISFA chairman Robert McVeigh, Faye Loughran and Tommy Taggert from Integrated College Dungannon teams and David Moore, Digital Learning and Wellbeing Consultant at Danske Bank.