The UEFA Regions' Cup is getting under way in northern Portugal, with Europe's finest amateur teams being given the treatment usually accorded to top professionals in what promises to be a celebration of the world's most popular sport.
Tournament director Álvaro Albino told UEFA.com that is the kind of hospitality players have come to expect at finals held in Portugal. "That is precisely one of our trademarks: to treat every single competition – especially the ones UEFA gives us the honour to host – with the same level of professionalism and organisation."
Portugal has hosted some major UEFA events in recent years; UEFA EURO 2004, the 2005 UEFA Cup final and the 2006 UEFA European Under-21 Championship to name but three – and Albino, who is also deputy general secretary of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), is delighted that European football's governing body has such faith in their abilities.
"It makes us very proud," he said. "We have been applying to host all manner of tournaments and UEFA has been kind enough to entrust us with that responsibility. They believe in our quality when it comes to staging one of their tournaments.
"We have one rule, which is to try to stage the best tournament ever of any competition we are given the opportunity to host and that's what we are going to do with the Regions' Cup. It's important for our country and especially for our tourism, and we just hope UEFA continues to show their confidence in our work and dedication."
The finals will also showcase one of Portugal's less-known areas. "Minho is not famous for its tourism but that happens with most parts of the country because the Algarve is still the one place that everybody visits and talks about," said Albino. "However, some of the teams here have already told us that they are simply amazed with the quality of the beaches and the countryside in this part of the country. That makes us very happy."
Confident that supporters will come out in force to help contribute to "a great football party", Albino hopes he can reflect on a job brilliantly done after the final in Barcelos on 28 June. "I would like to look back and feel that we did everything we could to stage the perfect competition," he concluded. "We want these teams to have fond memories of their experience here. If we could add a Braga triumph in the tournament that would be perfect."
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