With about 6,000 participants, The Keele International Cup is Britain’s biggest international football tournament and again in 2011 it will prove that it is the best. Everything is in place and ready to go!
Tournament Director David Shepherd said, “You should bring an atlas to Keele. It looks like about 20 countries from 4 continents including record breaking numbers from Africa and across the Atlantic from USA and Canada”.
The Tournament begins this weekend with the Open Age Women’s event on Saturday and Sunday. There are 3 categories. The biggest is the section for “Recreational Teams”, - there is one for “Senior Teams” like Liverpool Ladies and Stockport County and the “Elite” section includes Preston North End, Manchester City and Stoke City Ladies. These are some of the best in England and Keele is offering the biggest women’s football tournament in Europe.
The Professional/Select event in the Youth Tournament begins on Tuesday 26th July with the youngest ages, the under 9s and under 10s getting involved early and the other age groups from under 11 to under 17 having their first games during that day. There are entries from all the professional leagues, Premier, Championship, Football League and Conference which are joined by teams from Wales such as Bala Town, Airbus and The New Saints, Scottish side Elgin and Northern Ireland Premier League Club Dungannon Swifts. Stoke City, Port Vale, Crewe Alexandra and Macclesfield Town and Accrington Stanley, provide top-level local flavour.
The Open Youth Tournament has competitions from under 11 to under18 with sides from around the world. They will play alongside the pro/select competitions and the young hopefuls will be able to be inspired by the lads from the Academies and Centres of Excellence.
Keele has proved attractive to many overseas teams, at both professional and open level. The Canadian sides are from across that great country from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, through soccer mad Ontario to Halifax on the east coast in Nova Scotia. There are entries from throughout the USA. San Antonio Lions are from Texas’ Gulf of Mexico coast, others from the great cities of Chicago and New York with teams from Colorado and California. A first for Keele are the teams from the Caribbean islands Trinidad and Tobago. The African teams are from Nigeria and Kenya and there are several teams arriving to add to the lively atmosphere at the tournament and no doubt to the Carnival Parade at the Opening.
Despite the economic problems it is marvellous that 7 teams will come to Keele from the Republic of Ireland. Other European countries will be Norway, Finland, Switzerland, France and from the east we have Albania and Israel.
A great week of football is expected with over 100 games a day. In the youth section it is not all boys and the girls’ competitions play a major part with 4 age groups and 9 countries taking part.
New in 2011 there is a Carnival Parade and Opening Ceremony on Wednesday 27th July at 5.30pm. It is a fun event for the tournament participants to join with a core group of local youngsters from Newcastle, who have been working with the New Vic Theatre’s Sue Moffat to prepare costumes and flags. The Carnival Parade will begin at the Sports Centre and flow to the Piazza at the Student Union where they will be welcomed by the Mayor of Newcastle. Special guests at the Parade will be the Pukka- Pies sponsored “The England Band”.
Thursday and Friday will be special with the first ever Keele Soccer Expo being staged in one of the Sports Centre’s event halls. It is an exhibition with a football theme with about 30 exhibitions and lots to see, to try and to buy. You may need new shin guards, or balls for next season or you might like to try out the latest skills development equipment. Whether a player, coach or manager it will all be there!
For more details about the Keele Cup Trade Exhibition call 01254 676201 or email john @sportsglobal.co.uk
Finals Day for the Pro/Select competitions is on Friday while Saturday stages the finals of the boys and girls Open event.
For spectators and visitors the whole event is free of charge and there are no parking charges. You may want to take the bus which goes right through the University campus.