Saturday 14 September 2013
Some of the most talented Under-12s in England will be in action this weekend as qualifying for the 2013 Christmas Truce tournament starts with five tournaments around the country.
The Christmas Truce tournament, which began in 2011, brings together teams from England, Belgium, France and Germany to recreate the spirit of the Christmas Truce in 1914 when troops from those countries who were in the trenches during World War I, stopped fighting and exchanged gifts, sang carols and played impromptu games of football.
The regional qualifying events, held in Liverpool, London and Wolverhampton, will feature 25 teams, who will vie to claim the six places on offer for the National Finals, which will be held at St George’s Park, The Football Association’s national football centre, on Remembrance Weekend: 9-10 November.
Matches will comprise two 15-minute halves and played in a nine v nine format, with teams facing each other once in a round-robin competition.The winners from each qualifier will progress to the National Finals with the sixth place filled by the best runner-up. From the national tournament two teams will qualify for the Christmas Truce Tournament in Ypres, Belgium in early December.
The Ypres tournament serve as an educational, cultural and developmental event, with youngsters learning about the conflict and honouring the sacrifice by those in World War I, forming relationships with other teams, as well as testing themselves against the best players in Europe on the pitch.
West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United played in Ypres last year and the club's Head of Education, Mike Scott, was honoured that his players could attend.
"The Premier League not only organised a world-class tournament but brilliantly showed how football and education can develop a greater understanding of the importance of shared histories," Scott said.
Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, Leicester City
Chelsea, Fulham, Southampton, Reading, Swansea City
Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, Manchester City, Sunderland, Newcastle United
Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Hull City
Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City, West Ham United, Cardiff City