The tournament is the most prestigious event in the Women’s Soccer Colleges Association of Ireland’s (WSCAI) calendar. It is the first time for IT Sligo to host the event since the WSCAI event began in 1983.
The cream of third-level women’s football across Ireland including some 15 internationals and potential international players will turn out among a dozen teams competing in the three day event on February 7, 8 and 9.
IT Sligo President, Professor Terri Scott, described the campus’s sporting facilities as second to none in excellence, adding that IT Sligo had a demonstrable commitment to sports development, including an innovative Sports Scholarship scheme.
Professor Scott said: “We have a very focused policy of investment in sports as a student activity and an academic discipline that is key to a growing leisure industry and we are particularly proud to be able to host such a top class championship as the Intervarsities Tournament
In advance of a press conference to launch the event at the campus, she said: “Women’s Soccer, with the active support of the FAI Facilitator scheme, is a fine example of the competitive success that IT Sligo is having in many sporting disciplines. Our women footballers have been bringing us major accolades and we’re extremely proud that a number of them have gained international honours.”
Twelve teams will use the campus’s high-spec outdoor and indoor pitches and showpiece facilities at its multi-purpose Knocknarea Arena. The complex has championship floodlit playing pitches, including an Astro pitch. IT Sligo is one of four seeds in next month’s competition, which will have teams from as far away as Cork and Jordanstown, County Antrim.
Gerard Dunne, FAI National Co-ordinator for Women’s and College Football, said: “The FAI is delighted that IT Sligo is hosting the WSCAI 2013 Intervarsities, the showcase event of the season. IT Sligo has an excellent reputation for hosting college and university events, hosting the men’s CFAI Cup Finals and WSCAI National Futsal Finals in 2012, as well as Interprovincials and regional Futsal finals.”
“The World University Games will be held in July in Kazan, Russia and this weekend is an opportunity for players to impress Manager Sue Ronan and her staff, so the stakes are higher than usual, with most of the squad likely to be made up of players playing at the Sligo venue,” he said.
He also paid tribute to former team coach and lecturer Francis O’Regan and current coach and FAI Football Facilitator Emma Mullin for their work in developing IT Sligo into “a consistent top team in Women’s Football”.
Emma Mullin, IT Sligo’s FAI Football Facilitator, who is a Soccer star in her own right and also a coach, said: “It’s a tremendous honour for IT Sligo to host the tournament. It just shows that we have great sports facilities and that players from across the island are eager to use them. Teams at this level have high calibre players, with some of them playing at international level.
“It’s a three day competition in which everyone is vying to win this trophy. This is the one that everyone wants to win and all the teams look forward to this weekend each year. It’s the highest competition in women’s college soccer.”
Emma, from Kilmaine, Co Mayo, is an Ireland Colleges and International soccer representative and captained the IT Sligo side that won the coveted Intervarsities Tournament in 2007.
As well as adding to IT Sligo’s sporting and academic stature, hotels and other local business seem set to benefit too. Up to 200 players and officials will converge on the 70 acre campus and relatives, friends and college supporters are also expected.
Gordon Ryan, Head of Development and Business Operations, said: “We are delighted that visiting teams will experience facilities that our students and the wider Sligo public recognise as being top-class. It is a golden opportunity to show off the campus and the Knocknarea Arena, which can host everything from a student five-a-side match to a multi-media backed rock concert.”