It is one of the jewel’s in the crown of the Northern Irish tourism industry and it has become one of the premier sporting events on the island of Ireland.
The STATSports SuperCupNI is now one of the most prestigious youth football competitions in Europe and in 2019, the competition delivered £4.4 million to the Northern Irish economy.
This represents a 9% increase from the highly successful 2018 event, and with plans afoot for expansion, the economic impact of the competition is set to increase further over the next number of years.
Next year’s competition will see four age groups for the very first time, with organisers confirming that there will be an additional U14 section to complement the U13 Minor competition, U15 Junior section and the U17 Premier competition.
Last summer, aspiring young footballers from Africa, Asia, North and South America, as well as teams from across Europe descended upon the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area and Causeway, Coast and Glens Borough Council for a weeklong festival of football.
Despite the obvious disappointment of the cancellation of the 2020 tournament due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the competition’s organisers can revel in the impact the 2019 event had on the local economy.
“Our Tournament is first and foremost a football event but over the years it has become an important event in the Northern Ireland Events Calendar and provides a major boost to the economic life of not only the Tournament area but the whole of Northern Ireland.”
“We were also delighted to hear of the major increase in the media value of the tournament. Recent figures have told us that we have witnessed a 400% increase and the media value of the competition is now £10.2 million,” concluded Mr Leonard.
The tournament not only attracts teams from across the world, but also visitors including family members of tournament participants, football talent scouts and holiday makers eager to immerse themselves in a week of high-quality youth football.
In 2019, the footfall of spectators at the 13 venues reached in excess of 50,000. The local economy benefitted immensely from the increase in footfall across the two council areas and between visitors and participants in the competition, the tournament directly contributed to 27,000 bed nights over the duration of the Tournament.
This directly generated £1.8 million for local accommodation providers and Marketing Director for the McKeever Hotel Group, Bridgene Keeley, said the tournament plays an important role in the local tourism industry. Their group hosted teams at three hotels, the Adair Arms, the Dunsilly Hotel and the Dunadry Hotel last summer.
Ms Keeley commented, “The Adair Arms enjoyed 100% occupancy for the duration of the tournament since it began. This holds jobs and often leads to an increase of employee numbers over this time.
“The increase in productivity also requires an increase in the amount of produce purchased from our suppliers of which the majority are local companies. These companies supply everything from food, beverage, laundry, cleaning products, entertainment and transport to name a few.
“Overall, the event has a major impact both economically and is a promotional tool for NI regions which is of tremendous value.”
Colin Neill, Chief Executive of Hospitality Ulster echoed the thoughts of Bridgene Keeley and hailed the impact that the tournament has in attracting visitors to the two host council areas.
“Clearly the STATSports SuperCupNI is an integral part of our tourism economy.
“The benefits created through the high numbers of bed nights and associated spend by thousands of visitors with be vital to the hospitality sector as we move forward in our recovery process.
“We look forward to working with the tournament in the coming months and welcoming its return in 2021.”
The 2021 STATSports SuperCupNI will take place from Monday, July 26th through to Friday, July 30th, with the traditional parade of teams and welcome ceremony at the Coleraine Showgrounds to take place on Sunday, July 25.