South had no option but to pull out of Super Cup

There will not be a team from the South at the prestigious Super Cup in Northern Ireland this year.

After being at every tournament since 2003, the decision was made not to send a team to the tournament in Belfast this time.

The event attracts some of the best young footballing talent from around the world and has been a great opportunity for southern players to mix with players from all over the globe.

One of the organisers of the trips, Neil Mackenzie, said the decision to pull out was disappointing but was the only option.

Some prospective players had been injured, other players were unavailable and little progress was made when asking players from other centres.

In the end there were 11 players keen to make the trip and that was not enough to cover the the match schedule.

The Super Cup, formerly known as the Milk Cup, has drawn top youth teams from all over the world. This year teams such as Valencia, Newcastle, Celtic and academy sides from Africa are in the under-17 section in which at team from the South has previously played.

Mackenzie tried to get players from around the country but came up short.

Mackenzie said he could have recruited players from Florida but the whole point of the trip was to develop local talent so that was not considered.

It was a real shame for the sport and the players. The under-17 section was reduced to 16 teams from 24 this year.

The Football Otago Youth Development Academy Trust (Foydat) started in 2000 with a tour of Malaysia and Europe and followed that up the next year with a trip to South America. It had then headed to the Pacific Islands and then applied to play in the Milk Cup.

It was the first New Zealand side to apply and had been an everpresent in the competition.

Foydat teams had always been competitive and had been welcomed by the organisers. Many Otago players had grown at the tournament and it was good for their game, he said.

''We have a group of guys who organise all this stuff and just do it for the love of the game,'' Mackenzie said.

''Now we just have to sit back and take a breath and see what we can do from here.''

Each player contributed about $8000 to the trip but he said fundraising cut the cost significantly.

He said it was unclear whether the team would be invited next year. Organisers put out invitations after each tournament so not attending does not help in getting back the following year.

The tournament kicks off this weekend.

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