The Milk Cup is an international youth football tournament held annually in Northern Ireland. The cup matches are mainly played in the North Coast area of Northern Ireland, with matches taking place in the towns of Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock, Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Ballymena.
The Milk Cup began in 1983 with sixteen teams participating at an Under 16 (Premier) level. Motherwell F.C. from Scotland were the first winners. It was founded by Jim Weir, Victor Leonard and Bertie Peacock, one of the most famous football players from the region.
The competition was extended in 1985 when an extra age group, the Under 14 (Junior) section was introduced and again the first champions were from Scotland, as Rangers F.C. won the Milk Cup at that age level. The competition at both levels has grown in size and stature over the years, with teams increasingly travelling from all continents to compete. The Under 19 (Elite) section was introduced in 1995 with the Welsh finishing the tournament as winners. Traditionally, the finals are played at the Coleraine Showgrounds on the Friday evening.
Many current international footballers have taken part in the Milk Cup, players such as Charlie Davies, Jonathan Spector, Paul Scholes, and Wayne Rooney have all competed at some level in the Milk Cup. In the FIFA World Cup 2002 there were 30 Milk Cup veterans playing.
To celebrate the competition's silver jubilee, a friendly match took place between Northern Ireland and four-time junior section winners Everton F.C. at the Coleraine Showgrounds on July 14, 2007. Everton won the tie 2-0.
One of the key parts to the Milk Cup is the inclusion of six representative teams from each county of Northern Ireland - Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Derry and Tyrone. This system allows young players from across the province to compete against some of the best in the world at their age group.
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