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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Football stars of future on show
Paul Elliott (far right) and his team at the tournament in Aberystwyth
Paul Elliott (far right) and coach Mick Dove (centre) give a team talk
Some of the world's most promising young football players have kicked off a tournament in mid Wales, which once nurtured the likes of Michael Owen.

The potential soccer stars of the future have travelled from as far afield as Chile, Fiji, the United States and Canada to take part.

The Wales International Football Tournament, in Aberystwyth, is playing host to 190 teams - up to 4,000 boys and girls, aged from seven to 19.

Scouts from the Premiership and from Coca-Cola Championship clubs are represented at the event.

It's a good tournament and a shop window for the top teams looking for young talent
Former Chelsea star Paul Elliott

Most of the European nations are represented including those from the UK.

Former Chelsea, Aston Villa and Pisa central defender, Paul Elliott, also has a team entered in the competition, which began on Monday and ends on Friday.

He said: "We've haven't been here for two or three years, but it's a good tournament and a shop window for the top teams looking for young talent.

"There are young people here from across Europe and the world and they're all trying to fulfil the dream and this tournament is definitely a cataylst for that."

Former Wales manager Mike Smith, the tournament's president, said: "The standard is very good and the games are even-sided.

Mid Wales side TNS (in green)
TNS FC (in green) take on a Canadian side at the tournament

"It's one of the last tournaments in the UK for pre-academy youngsters and it's a shop window for those clubs looking for young talent."

Former Aberystwyth Town manager, Meirion Appleton, a junior league development officer with the Football Association of Wales Trust, added: "It's the 20th tournament this year.

"And most of the Premiership and first division clubs are represented by scouts.

"We have 18 pitches and games are played constantly from early in the morning until the evening.

Money-spinner

"It's without doubt one of the best tournaments for young people and there's no doubt that some here will make it into the top sides in the future."

Coaches from Chelsea's academy are giving coaching sessions at the event too.

Liverpool and Wales legend Ian Rush made an appearance at the event on Monday morning.

Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen played at the tournament for four consecutive years for a mid Wales under 10s team.

His goal-scoring record still stands.

Manchester City's Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman were two other stars who took part in the competition as youngsters.

The tournament is also an important money-spinner for Aberystwyth.

Competitors stay in the university halls of residence for the week and bring a rush of business for local traders.

Mr Appleton estimated the venture bought in 1m to the region's economy.


SEE ALSO:
Baby joy for Owen
01 May 03  |  North East Wales
Football club signs 11-year-old
29 Jul 03  |  Humber
Final touch for homeless players
23 Jun 03  |  South East Wales


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