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Amateurs eye France chance

Published: Sunday 14 November 2004, 15.05CET
Teams from France, Belgium, Scotland and Spain contest UEFA Regions' Cup qualifying Group 1.
Published: Sunday 14 November 2004, 15.05CET

Amateurs eye France chance

Teams from France, Belgium, Scotland and Spain contest UEFA Regions' Cup qualifying Group 1.

Teams from Belgium, Scotland and Spain will be joining a host side from France to contest UEFA Regions' Cup qualifying Group 1 from 16 November.

Final tournament
In the final games of the year in Europe's premier competition for amateur footballers, hosts Ligue Nord-Pas de Calais will be hoping to overcome competition from Belgium's Kempen Amateur, Spain's Vasca Amateur and Scotland's Highlands and Islands Amateur to reach next June's final tournament.

Local heroes
Nord-Pas de Calais earned the right to represent France with a 1-0 win against Ligue Bretagne in the French regional championship finals. They are made up largely of sports teachers from the region in the north of France but, as joint-coach Jean-François Niemezcki told uefa.com: "I have also players who are salesmen and one works in a nursery."

Special motivation
Niemezcki and his tactical guru André Molle scoured their region to find the best players they could, and are eager to kick off on 16 November. "We have no idea if we can win, but we have motivation because there is a week abroad at the finals for the winner," he said.

Big travellers
Scotland's Highlands and Islands are the big travellers for Group 1, as they hail from the northernmost region of Scotland. Surprise winners of the Scottish amateur championship, their players are mostly from the western isles of Lewis and Harris, and include fish farmers, an engineer and local students.

Huge achievement
They are coached by Angus Morrison, an electrical contractor and also a fireman on the isle of Lewis. He said: "It's a massive thing for us even to get to this stage, but to go on and contest the finals next summer would be a phenomenal achievement. We know it's going to be a difficult task, but we're confident of putting up a good show."

Island life
Scottish Football Association coach Jim Fleeting has also been helping the team, who have had some unique problems. He said: "Our squad training took place at weekends at the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall and many of the players had to travel a long way with some inconvenience, especially when there are no ferries from the mainland back to Lewis and Harris on Sundays."

Spanish representatives
Spain's representatives at the tournament are Vasca Amateur, who hail from the Basque region. Composed mostly of students, regional federation secretary Jon Ander Gamboa says his side are thrilled to have the chance to take on international competition in France.

'Great determination'
"We are excited at being in the tournament and will be going to France with great determination," he said. "I like to think we are very strong defensively and with a gutsy attitude and pacy forwards in attack. The team is strong and plays very well as a unit."

Belgian expertise
Vasca will take on hosts Nord-Pas de Calais in their first game, while Highlands and Islands face Kempen. A team from the region around Antwerp and Limburg, Kempen are coached by Francis Jadouille with Stany Meskens acting has assitant. Technical advisor Joos De Sender will also be providing help.

Friendly result
The team, who earned the right to represent Belgium after overcoming Vlakke Land in the final of their regional amateur competition, are made up of players between the ages of 19 and 25 who play in fourth division and provincial league clubs. Their final warm-up game before travelling to France saw them earn a 1-1 draw against second division side KFC Dessel Sport.

Last updated: 31/01/12 10.07CET

http://www.uefa.com/regionscup/news/newsid=257271.html#amateurs+france+chance

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