Translink Schools’ Gold Cup competition set to return
The Irish FA Translink Schools’ Gold Cup is returning this year – and it is set to get under way next week.
The annual cup competition involves the eight post-primary schools across Northern Ireland who have been awarded the Gold Schools’ Quality Mark accreditation by the Irish FA Foundation.
It was not played last year due to the Covid pandemic, however with the generous support of Translink the Irish FA Foundation was able to provide masterclass coaching sessions for all schools back in May in preparation for this year’s tournament.
The Schools’ Quality Mark accreditation supports schools to put structures in place to develop football. The Gold Cup is the first competition involving schools playing each other across three age groups (U13, U15, U17).
This competition for the current school year was launched at Our Lady and St Patrick’s College at Knock in east Belfast, and the draw threw up some interesting ties for match day one.
The holders, St Columb’s College from Derry-Londonderry, are set to make the short journey to Holy Cross Strabane, while Boys’ Model (Belfast) will travel to Bangor Academy in the first set of Group 1 fixtures.
In Group 2 Ashfield Boys’ High School (Belfast) are scheduled to host neighbours and 2018 winners Our Lady and St Patrick’s Knock and Laurelhill Community College (Lisburn) will be hoping home advantage gives them the edge against a strong St Malachy’s College (Belfast).
Keith Gibson, acting director of football development in the Irish FA Foundation, said: “I am delighted to see the competition return and would like to wish all the schools the best of luck this year.
“The Translink Schools’ Gold Cup is an innovative competition that showcases the strength of schools’ football at different age groups. It was disappointing that the competition could not be played last year, however I would like to thank Translink who worked with us to provide valuable masterclass sessions which were the first schools’ football sessions delivered when restrictions eased.”
Mark Glover, local Translink manager, said: “As the main school transport provider in Northern Ireland we’re committed to supporting pupil development and wellbeing. In particular we value the importance of promoting an active and healthy lifestyle – something this competition is all about.
“It is great to see this competition return after a year off due to Covid and I’d like to thank the Irish FA for working in partnership with Translink to deliver this fantastic initiative. I’d also like to pay tribute to all the coaches who train, motivate and inspire their players to be the best they can be. Good luck to all the teams. I hope you enjoy another fantastic competition.”
The first round of games in the Translink Schools’ Gold Cup 2020-21 is as follows:
Monday 15 November
Laurelhill Community College v St Malachy’s College
Wednesday 17 November
Ashfield Boys’ High v Our Lady and St Patrick’s Knock
Holy Cross Strabane v St Columb’s College
Boys’ Model v Bangor Academy