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As the FA Cup Final approaches, former Republic of Ireland and Chelsea midfielder Andy Townsend and England and Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown will set club rivalries aside to support young footballers playing in the UK finals of the Tesco Cup on Sunday, May 24 at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton.
The Tesco Cup, now in its fourth year, is a home nations grassroots football competition across three age groups, Under-13 boys, Under-14 girls and Under-16 girls. Over 3,700 teams entered the 2009 Tesco Cup and following the County, Regional and National stages, just 12 remain. The teams will represent England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in a bid to be crowned UK champions.
Andy Townsend said: "Tesco's partnership with the FA is hugely beneficial for the development of grassroots football in the UK and it is excellent to hear that over 60,000 players have taken part in this year's competition, a significant increase on 2008. We look forward to seeing even more youngsters involved in the tournament in 2010."
Gary Speed added: "I would like to congratulate the twelve teams who have reached this stage of the competition, it is a fantastic achievement. Unfortunately I will not be at the Tesco Cup UK Final as I have my own big game on Monday with Sheffield United bidding for a promotion to the Premier League, but I look forward to hearing how the teams get on."
Rachel Brown said: "'This is only the second year that girls have been involved in the Tesco Cup and it is already a huge success, which proves how much women's football is growing in the UK. I look forward to spotting some stars of the future at the Reebok Stadium."
Sir Trevor Brooking, FA Director of Football Development and Sir Terry Leahy, CEO for Tesco, will also attend the tournament's climax at the home of Bolton Wanderers. Sir Trevor commented: "Football needs brands like Tesco to invest in the development of the sport and the Tesco Cup provides an excellent platform for young players to enjoy competitive football at an international level. The chance to play at a Premiership ground is a wonderful opportunity for the footballers and I hope they all enjoy their day."
In 2008, teams from Northern Ireland won the Under-13 boys (Linfield FC) and Under-14 girls (Northern Belles), while Scotland's representatives Hibernian FC took the Under-16 girls title. Linfield FC and Hibernian FC will return this year to defend their titles.
This year the line up is:
ENGLAND: Stokesley FC, Middlesbrough
NORTHERN IRELAND: Linfield FC, Belfast
SCOTLAND: Tynecastle FC, Edinburgh
WALES: Landore Colts, West Wales
ENGLAND: Manchester City Girls
NORTHERN IRELAND: Sion Swifts, Strabane
SCOTLAND: Celtic, Tayside
WALES: Llangyfelach Girls, West Wales
ENGLAND: Manchester United Girls
NORTHERN IRELAND: YMCA, Derry
SCOTLAND: Hibernian Girls, Edinburgh
WALES: Llanidloes, Central Wales
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