The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and Dublin City Council are running a major grassroots programme for boys and girls in the lead-up to next month's UEFA Europa League final in the Irish capital.
The FAI and Dublin City Council, the successful joint bidders to host the final on Wednesday 18 May, have so far engaged more than 1,700 boys and girls in the community section of the initiative, which will reach a conclusion with the Road to the Europa League Finals at the Irishtown Stadium on the eve of the big match.
The community part of the programme, comprising four v four small-sided games, is a competition currently being played at venues across Dublin for the Under-10 and U12 age groups. The winners from each district will progress to area heats played in the week starting 28 April, before the winners of those heats advance to the Road to the Europa League Finals on 17 May, at the Irishtown venue in the shadow of the Dublin Arena.
Here, participating children will have the opportunity to win medals, adidas kit, tracksuits, footballs and UEFA Europa League final tickets.
The community competition is designed to leave a lasting legacy from the UEFA final, particularly through its objective of increasing female participation by identifying girls with an interest in playing football and giving them a route to becoming involved with local clubs. Each squad must have at least two girls, with at least one girl on the pitch at all times.
Running parallel to the community competition is a grassroots club competition in which U10 boys teams and U10 girls teams take part separately in four-a-side games. This gets under way on 28 April at four locations across Dublin and concludes at the same Irishtown event on 17 May.
The FAI and Dublin City Council also work closely together through a network of 20 co-funded football development officers in communities throughout the city.
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