Youthful competitors get on the ball for Galway world cup


No one dared to joke about "own goals" but when two Government Ministers turned up to a recent soccer event in Galway, they may have been anticipating a few jibes.

Luckily for them former Irish international soccer star and Manchester United player Paul McGrath was the centre of attention when the first world cup of the 21st Century opened at the NUI Galway sports ground. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen, and Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Fahey, had taken time on a Saturday morning to join McGrath in kicking off the event, which involved over 250 young people aged between 14 and 16. The competitors had trained hard, but they also had to design the kit and flags, and research the history of their respective states. So, as far as Ballinfoyle Area Youth Project in Galway was concerned, the Cosa Nostra turned out in full regalia for Italy, while Spain was an almost an all-female state - Muirhevnamore Community Youth Project from Co Louth had one male in the line-out.

Muirhevnamore, representing Norwegian Vikings, won first prize for the most creative kit, with Ballinfoyle's Neighbourhood Youth Project in Galway, representing Sweden, coming second.

Colombia - that is, Boyle Neighbourhood Youth Project in Co Roscommon - won the world cup, designed by Galway community artist Catheriona O'Sullivan. Australia (Galway After School Project), came second, followed by South Africa (Castlebar Neighbourhood Youth Project, Co Mayo).

The event was organised by Ronan Scully of the Ballybane Youth Development Project and Paul Tannian of Ballinfoyle Neighbourhood Youth Project in Galway, with the help of the Western Health Board, Foroige, the National Youth Development Organisation, and several other volunteers. It was sponsored by the health board, Galway City Vocational Education Committee, Foroige, the Department of Defence and Galway business interests.