Jim Boyce, chairman of the UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee, called the UEFA Regions' Cup "one of the most important competitions that UEFA actually runs" as he helped conduct the draw for the opening rounds of the eighth edition of the world's top amateur football tournament.
"I have been fortunate to go to several of the recent Regions' Cup tournaments, and the camaraderie and the spirit is something that remains with the players for a long time," Boyce told UEFA.com after overseeing the qualifying draw along with UEFA's head of national team competitions, Lance Kelly.
"I have been involved for over ten years and I believe that the Regions' Cup is one of the most important competitions that UEFA actually runs," added Boyce. "I think it's tremendous that players who don't have the opportunity of playing in professional football week in, week out, have the chance of playing in Europe and getting to finals of a major European competition. So I think it's absolutely wonderful that UEFA formed a competition such as this. I hope that it will run for many years."
Braga won the 2011 edition on home soil, but no Portuguese side will defend their title, meaning there is sure to be a new name on the roll of honour after the 2013 finals, which will be hosted by one of the eight teams that qualify.
The competition begins with two preliminary round mini-tournaments. The winners and the best runner-up from the two groups (three sides in total) then transfer to the intermediary round, where the winners of the eight groups will earn a place in the final tournament.
Most participating associations put forward the winners of their domestic amateur tournaments for the competition, which are contested on a regional basis, though smaller associations are permitted to submit national selections.
RAT = regional amateur team
NAT = national amateur team
Preliminary round (hosts in bold)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (RAT)
Northern Ireland (RAT)
Matches to be played between 1 August and 30 September 2012
Intermediary round (hosts in bold)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (RAT)
Winner, preliminary round Group A
Czech Republic (RAT)
Winner, preliminary round Group B
San Marino (NAT)
Best runner-up, preliminary round
Republic of Ireland (RAT)
Matches to be played between 1 August and 31 December 2012
* Matches to be played between 1 October 2012 and 31 April 2013
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.