Londonderry's Foyle Cup kicks off a festival of youth football

crowd at Derry's guildhall
Image caption Thousands gathered at the Guildhall in Derry

Thousands of young people from all over the world will compete in the Foyle Cup over the next five days.

The youth football tournament in Londonderry is in its 27th year.

It kicked off on Monday, but the annual parade took place on Tuesday and featured a record-breaking 400 teams marching through the city.

Clubs have travelled from as far as Canada, the US and all over Europe to participate in the competition, which features more than 1,500 matches.

Image caption Teams from as far as America have travelled for the competition

More than 6,500 young people will play across the north west on pitches from Moville, County Donegal. to Dungiven in County Londonderry.

Michael Hutton, the tournament's organiser, said the competition has progressed significantly since its inaugural year.

"It started off with eight teams in a one-day tournament and it was all boys.

"Girls football is very much on the up, as we've seen with the World Cup, and we've had our highest entry of girls this year.

"We've been developing girls football over the past few years and now the next development process now is for kids with disabilities," he said.

Image caption The players, coaches, referees and supporters gathered at Ulster University's Magee Campus

It's not just the players who have come from all corners and sectors - the referees have come from far and wide as well.

David Somers, who has officiated in the Scottish Premier League and at international level, said not everybody needs to be as experienced as him to help with the competition.

"I think it's very much a case that anyone who has experience with football, whether it be an ex-player or ex-club official - anybody can get involved.

"However you need to tailor your approach, obviously taking into account the circumstances of the game and the age of the players.

"It's very much a learning curve for everybody," he said.

Mitchell Krop, from the Netherlands, is one of those who has navigated the learning curve.

He has been refereeing at the Foyle Cup for the past nine years and said it's the "warm family" that keeps him coming back.

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