Super Cup NI with Stephen Murray
Super Cup NI is just just over one week away. Stephen Murray, General Manager of PASS4Soccer Ireland, will be coaching a team.
The tournament takes place every year. This year, one of our own will be coaching the County Tyrone Premier Team.
Tyrone will have three group games. They will take on Vendee, of France, Global Premier Soccer, from the USA, and Celtic in Group B.
Stephen discussed what his role at this years Super Cup NI is and what he’s hoping to achieve.
What has been your involvement with the Super Cup NI over the years?
SM: Over the past four years, I have arranged for P4S to play the Tyrone Super Cup NI Team in the lead up to the Tournament. I build a relationship, where I would have access to players, possibly looking to pursue the USA Soccer Scholarship Route. I’ve had a good relationship within the county since I have relocated to Tyrone, after returning from America. I’ve gone along to the Tournament every year to watch games, while also looking to recruit players from all other counties taking part in the Tournament. I have a good relationship with the Northern Ireland Schools International Manager, Frankie Wilson, who I would usually be able to provide player information on players I think would help with his upcoming Centenary Shield competition.
What is your role this summer at the tournament?
SM: I’ve built up a good relationship with current manager David Harvey, who has been involved with the County Tyrone Premier Side for the last two years. With David looking for a new coach this year, I felt it would be a perfect opportunity to get involved in a coaching capacity and work with the best players in the county over a 10-week period. My role is to prepare the players and make sure they are in the best possible condition leading into the tournament. And assist the management team in making decisions to benefit the team. Throughout the 10 weeks, we have played against other counties from around Northern Ireland. This has given me the access to keep a close eye on players, who are potentially looking at options to pursue after finishing school.
How many players have taken up the US Soccer Scholarship route after playing at the Super Cup NI?
SM: Leading into the Tournament, most players’s sole purpose will be to perform well and hopefully get scouted by some of the big clubs across the water. My target at the tournament is to identify players and follow their progress. Within the next year after the tournament, players will look at alternative options outside of the professional route and target third-level education. Top players from Super Cup NI will go on and play for the Northern Ireland Schools International side. Over the past three years, we’ve had nearly 20 players go over to the USA after playing at the Super Cup NI through the PASS4Soccer system.
How does the tournament work, which other teams are taking part?
SM: There are 20 teams in the Premier Tournament, with five groups of four teams in each section. It will be played in the first three days and then teams will progress to the Semi-Finals of a tournament. This depends on their positions in the group. In the Tyrone group, which I will be coaching, is Vendee (France), Global Premier Soccer (USA) and Celtic Football Club (Scotland), which will be the glamour tie. The objective is to top the group and go through into the main Super Cup NI Cup Semi-Finals. You could end up facing opposition from South America, North America, Europe or Africa. The level of competition is very high and teams come from all over the world to take part.
What sort of standard is the tournament and how will you be helping people understand the Soccer Scholarship route?
SM: The Tournament is considered one the biggest youth tournaments in Europe and has been running for over 30 years. In that time, players have gone on to have illustrious careers for some of the top European Clubs on the world stage. Players such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and, more recently, Marcus Rashford have played in the prestigious tournament. My objective is to make sure players have a better understanding of the U.S. Route and alternative options if the professional route does not work out. At 17/18 years of age, the opportunity to go over to America on a soccer scholarship and get a degree is a viable option. Over the past few years, we’ve had clients, who have gone on to play in the MLS or come back to the UK and play professional football with a degree in their back pocket.
Apart from Super Cup NI, are there any other events you’re involved in?
SM: When the Super Cup NI tournament is over, my focus will then turn to recruiting players for our Assessment Days. These will be located all over Ireland. I usually work closely with clubs throughout the country and would also set up games with the Schools International team. The coaches Showcase will be on later in the year. U.S. coaches come over to view P4S clients in Dublin and this gives players the opportunity to showcase their talents. Every year, we also have our Tour squad, which we take over to North Carolina. This gives players a fantastic opportunity to visit Universities and experience the facilities and lifestyle they could have in America.
Any players interested in going down the US Soccer Scholarship route, register now
on our website for an upcoming event.