Signing up for the Milk Cup's Club 30 initiative is Tom Hamilton (left), director of Bishops foot wear in Coleraine. With him is Milk Cup chairman Victor Leonard.
Local businesses and organisations are being given the opportunity to show their support for the Milk Cup by signing up to the event's exclusive Club 30 initiative.
To mark the international youth football tournament's 30th anniversary year, the Milk Cup has formed a special club offering an excellent benefits package for businesses, groups and individuals prepared to back the event which has helped generate millions of pounds for the local economy over three decades.
Now firmly established as one of the world's top under age soccer competitions, the Milk Cup has big plans to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Chairman Victor Leonard says: "We have already had an encouraging response to the Club 30 initiative and we are grateful for the support we have received from the business community and others over the years.
"One of the key challenges in maintaining the high standard of the Milk Cup remains finance and while we appreciate that times are difficult for all of us, we have specifically aimed Club 30 to be a viable proposition for smaller businesses, giving them the chance to come on board for 2012 and help us celebrate 30 years of the tournament.
"The Club 30 move is also a unique way for members to raise the profiles of their business or organisation."
Since 1983, teams from 61 countries across the world have visited the area to compete in the tournament's three age levels and in addition to producing some outstanding football, many friendships have been forged.
Around 33,000 competitors have been involved, between 70 and 80 per cent of them from outside Northern Ireland.
The Milk Cup makes this region a tourist magnet for ten days every summer and is now one of the major events on Northern Ireland's sporting calendar.
"The tournament's impact on the economy of the region is well documented. It has been vital in encouraging visitor numbers and increasing tourist spend," added Victor.
Club 30 members will receive an attractive package of benefits including public relations opportunities throughout the traditional, electronic and social media, their logo and link displayed throughout 2012 on the official Milk Cup website which has more than three million hits annually plus invitations to all tournaments events and social events associated with it throughout the year.
Members will also be able to avail of the opportunity to display their company banner at one game specified by the organising committee, the chance for a representative of their business or organisation to present a match ball at their nominated game and enter a draw to present one of the awards at finals night.
Victor added: "We hope that local businesses and organisations will join in the 30th anniversary celebration and in doing so support us as we strive to maintain one of the key visitor attractions in the area."
Causeway Chamber president, James Smyth, said: “It is essential that the business community ensures it plays a tangible part in backing one of the most impressive events to be staged in and around the area.
"Like football itself, it should be all about team work and securing a strong bond between local firms and the event's organisers.
Tom Hamilton, director of Bishops foot wear in Coleraine, inaugural members of Club 30, agreed: “People who come to the event prove by their presence that they like to be here and that is something that makes me proud.
“After all the excellent hard work the organisers and their wonderful volunteers have poured into the Milk Cup I want to see the event continue to flourish here."
Anyone wishing to find out more about Milk Cup Club 30 can contact Jim Sandford at either
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or 07860 841193; and Jason Andrews on 07810 751250.