Cyprus Mail

Record participation in McDonald’s Ayia Napa Youth Soccer Festival

McDonalds Soccer Tournament, Ayia Napa Youth Soccer Festival

There is set to be a record number of participants in this year’s McDonald’s Ayia Napa Youth Soccer Festival, which will get underway at the end of April.

More than 4,000 children aged between six and 17 years old are set to take part in Cyprus’ largest football festival, playing in 470 different teams across the tournament’s different age categories.

In addition, a total of 19 football academies from overseas are to take part in the tournament, bringing with them more than 750 children in total.

The organisers also highlighted the fact that in addition to the countries from which teams usually hail, such as Lebanon and Jordan, teams from European countries including Finland, Malta, the Czech Republic, Poland, and the United Kingdom will also take part.

Additionally, for the first time in the tournament’s history, a team from Africa will take part; the Jungle Kings Academy from Botswana.

Accompanying the thousands of players, approximately 2,000 chaperones and parents are expected to travel to Cyprus for the event.

The tournament itself features separate “less competitive” sections for children aged 13 and younger, which, the organisers say, “gives the opportunity to the largest possible number of children to participate in less competitive matches with more emphasis on joy and fun.”

In addition, once the initial group phase is complete, teams qualify for three separate knock-out rounds, giving every team a chance to extend their participation in the tournament.

The organisers also wished to highlight the participation of a total of 16 girls’ teams in the tournament, which they say, “achieves the common goals of the organisation and the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) – the development of women’s football in Cyprus.”

The Ayia Napa municipality, alongside the tournament’s organisers and its principal sponsors McDonald’s Cyprus and Lidl Cyprus, are “feverishly preparing” for the event, which is due to see the municipality host more than 20,000 visitors over the course of the tournament.

The organisers also praised the tourism deputy ministry for its “successfully efforts to attract teams from abroad”, and the CFA for its organisation of referees to officiate the more than 1,200 matches which are set to be played.

They also highlighted the importance of the Ayia Napa marina, which, “welcomes and undertakes every year the organisation of the tournament’s press conference.”

Organising committee representative Christos Constantinou said “the McDonald’s Ayia Napa Youth Soccer Festival is for us a real football celebration … and the goal of all of us as organisers and of all those who will attend the event should be the protection of the children.”

Those children, they said, “should be given the opportunity away from the pressure and stress of winning to enjoy and have fun.

“We should all encourage and applaud all the children for the effort they will make in a spirit of sportsmanship and respect for the laws of the game, the referees, and in general for all those present.”

The tournament is scheduled to begin on April 27, and will conclude on May 1. Six of the tournament’s finals will be broadcast live on Cytavision on May 1 between 1pm and 5pm.

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