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24 teams to battle for ethnic soccer crown

Football Fever - 24 teams to battle for ethnic soccer crown

Don't Miss the opportunity to witness some of the best world soccer right here in Christchurch. Staged over three days, 24 teams from diverse backgrounds will battle it out in this year's Ethnic Soccer festival.

The tournament, part of Christchurch City Council's SummerTimes festival of free outdoor entertainment, has more in store than just top-notch soccer. This year global food stalls and dance music will help create a magical atmosphere that will rival a World Cup Final. People from Christchurch are invited to bring families to share the experience, adopt a team and discover why this sport is aptly coined "the beautiful game".

Defending their title is the Somali team. With an average age of 21 years, the players are all soccer fanatics. They coach themselves and fit in practise up to four times a week around their university schedules. Abdi Aziz, whose soccer sits alongside studying political science at the University of Canterbury, says: "We've no coach but we take soccer very seriously. If you show up late for practice, the team makes you do push-ups."

The festival begins on Friday evening, 28 January, with a colourful and emotional opening. The preliminary matches will be played 8.30am- 4.30pm on Saturday 29 January and Sunday 30 January at Bexley Road Reserve. The semis and final are to be held on the following Saturday, 5 February. The semi-finals start at 10am at Bexley Reserve and the Grand Final will be played at English Park, kicking off at 2pm.

Entry is free for spectators, and food stalls and entertainment throughout the three days completes the experience. A "penalty shoot-out" competition during half-time at the Grand Final will test your skills as you attempt to kick the ball past goalie Lee Germon -- Mainland Soccer's chief executive. Be into win with lucky spot-prizes - get your lucky ticket at the semi-finals on 5 February and be present at the final to claim your prize. A dance party is the finale to the festival with traditional costumes, ethnic music, food and cultural performances.

Organised through the tenacity of community spirit, this special event has come to fruition due to the generous support of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Mainland Soccer, Plains FM and the Christchurch City Council.

Photo Opportunities: Opening ceremony Friday 28 Janaury at 7pm. Contact Cecilia Guridi on 353 8312 29-30 January Bexley Reserve, Preliminary Play. 29 January 8.30am -4.30pm, 30 January 9.30am- 4.30 5 February Semi Finals, Bexley Reserve 10am. Final, English Park 2pm. Dance Party, 5pm, English Park. ? For more information, call Cecilia Guridi from the Office Of Ethnic Affairs on 353 8312 ? More information about SummerTimes -- the Christchurch City Council's free festival of outdoor entertainment - is on the web at http://www.summertimes.co.nz/

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