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Your Game goes cultural in Liverpool

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Your Game goes cultural in Liverpool

All aspects of Liverpool's rich heritage were on display as Your Game touched down in the 2008 European Capital City of Culture.

Even former Liverpool defender Stephane Henchoz didn't miss out on a day of high-tempo football, music, dance and comedy as he handed out the trophies in Liverpool.

"One of the best goalkeepers Liverpool ever had," was the cheeky verdict from a member of the men's Fair Play winners, Sead Project, as he collected his ticket to the national final.

Judging by his reception the Swiss centre back is still fondly remembered on Merseyside after his undetected handball helped the Reds win the 2001 FA Cup against Arsenal.

And he was clearly impressed with a hotly-contested Your Game men's final won by Litherland Sports Park who beat United Colours of Kensington 2-1.

"I was surprised to be honest because you could see the challenges flying in," said the now Blackburn player.

"You could see the players were passionate - they really wanted to win and that's what they need because it's exactly the same in life."

Earlier, Wirral Ladies booked their passage to the final, to be held at Birmingham City's stadium on 19 May, when two goals from Katie-Jo Medley helped them to a 2-0 victory over local rivals Tranmere Girls.

Wirral Ladies receive their trophy from Stephane Henchoz
Wirral Ladies receive their trophy from Stephane Henchoz

Medley, who on the day spray-painted her boots pink to match her hair, finally broke the deadlock after a sterling performance in the Tranmere goal by Nicky Graves.

Wirral Ladies will be joined at St Andrews by women's Fair Play winners Positive Futures Girls, who turned around a 10-1 loss in their first game to make the semi-finals.

But it was the chance to take part in the BBC Blast streetdance workshop which really made the day for the girls.

"Some of us haven't kicked a ball in our lives but we're having a great day," said team-member Lois.

"We didn't realise there was a dance workshop on but it has been the best bit - it was worth coming down for that alone. The football hasn't been going too well, so hopefully it will inspire us."

The session seemed to help on the pitch and their performance on the stage impressed dance teacher Louise Harrison who has worked with a host of pop stars.

"I was expecting the level to be quite low to be honest because they just came over from the football," she said. "I didn't think they would be able to put one foot in front of the other but they did really well, so I'm happy.

"I've worked with lots of different artists over the years like Leona, Jamelia and the Black Eyed Peas, so I know these girls are good."

That wasn't the only talent on show with a host of MCs and DJs proving the Capital City of Culture has plenty of flair among its streets.

Men's final
United Colours of Kensigntons' Allen Weston is denied by Sean Lake

Young MCs Stylie, Valskie and Will D entertained the crowd in front of the watching eye of elder statesman MC Kof who was on hand to offer his advice.

And the local talent was followed up on stage by football freestylers from Ball Fusion such as 14-year-old Ollie Hayes, who once again sent local heads into a spin with their astonishing array of tricks.

The day's most colourful character, however, was Siddi Majubah who was spurring on beaten men's finalists United Colours of Kensington.

The west African, dressed in full traditional dress complete with voodoo mat, explained how his projects, alongside player-manager Allen Weston, were proving a hit in the Kensington area of Liverpool.

"It used to be a white area but now they are many Africans and Asians living in the area who are happy, so we have to thank the local lads who have helped us integrate in the local community," said Majubah.

Although Weston was disappointed with defeat in the final, Majubah was on hand to throw his arms around the team in consolation.

"Overall it's been a good tournament and the lads have enjoyed it, that's the main thing," added Majubah.

"It's not just about winning, it's about making friendships and giving more opportunities for young people."

Stephane Henchoz attended Your Game in Liverpool as a guest of the Swiss Embassy in London. The Swiss Embassy are supporting Your Game by taking the 2008 Your Game All Stars to Switzerland during the European Championship.

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see also
Portsea dominate Your Game kick-off
21 Mar 08 |  Your Game
BBC Blast meets Your Game
25 Feb 08 |  Your Game
Your Game unveiled in Banksy lair
29 Feb 08 |  Your Game
Liverpool 'too reliant' on stars
27 Mar 08 |  Liverpool

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