Thursday 17 November 2011
The Barclays Premier League is to organise a Christmas Truce international youth tournament at Ypres.
The tournament will bring together some of the best Under-12 players from England, Belgium, France and Germany in the town of Ypres.
England will be represented by Barclays Premier League title holders Manchester United and Germany by current Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund.
RC Lens will represent France, while Racing Genk, reigning Belgian Pro League champions, will act for Belgium.
The tournament will take place on the 3rd and 4th of December 2011 at the home of Belgian club KVK Ieper (Ypres).
The teams will play in a round-robin tournament before a final and third-place play-off on the Sunday.
"This is an opportunity to honour heroes of the past and build for the future"
Barclays Premier League Director of Youth Ged Roddy
The tournament has two key objectives: player development and education. In line with the principles outlined in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), this is an opportunity for the most promising young players under the age of 12 to challenge themselves against the best players in Europe.
This will also be a unique and valuable learning experience. The first World War is often part of the curriculum for Year Seven children. The boys will recognise the role of professional football players in the conflict and commemorate their sacrifice.
A number of cultural events will take place over the weekend. On Friday 2nd December the Manchester United team will visit the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial for the Last Post ceremony and lay a commemorative wreath for the 57,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient during the first World War.
On the Saturday evening there will be a dinner for the four participating teams to recreate the spirit of the famous Christmas Truce. During the first World War, an unofficial truce took place on 24th December 1914 in the trenches around Ypres.
It started with German soldiers putting decorations around their trenches and singing Christmas Carols. The British soldiers responded by singing English Christmas Carols.
The soldiers on both sides responded by shouting Christmas greetings and a suggestion of a meeting in No Man's Land. Once there, a gift exchange began and there were reports of a football match being played. The boys from the four clubs will exchange gifts just as the troops did in 1914.
Ged Roddy, Director of Youth at the Barclays Premier League, said: "This is an opportunity for the next generation to honour heroes of the past, and build for the future.
"Tournaments like this are vital to development of players as per the EPPP. To create more rounded footballers it is important that we play the best with the best.
"But their education is vital also and this will be a very beneficial cultural experience. One of things that Ofsted highlighted when we got our 'Outstanding' rating was that Premier League Clubs encourage open minds that accept and welcome other cultures."
"We will be using the Christmas Truce tournament to foster the development of closer relationships between European clubs."