Gibraltar and La Linea are to host a friendly international women’s football tournament aimed at promoting the sport while fostering cross-border regional cooperation.
The tournament will bring together some of the top women’s football teams from across Europe and North America in what is hailed as “a bid to increase co-operation between regions through sport, while providing a high calibre sporting event,” according to the tournament organisers and the Mayor of Linea, Juan Franco.
At a press conference in La Linea yesterday, Mr Franco said the tournament would once again bring to the forefront the links that already exist between La Linea and Gibraltar.
“I am tired of repeating the same thing, of how strong the links between both are. But it is a reality,” said.
“People come from outside and don’t understand the incredible links that exist.”
Sitting alongside him to launch the tournament in La Linea’s City Council yesterday were Kaiane Aldorino Lopez, the Mayor of Gibraltar; the Deputy President of the Gibraltar FA, Ian Torrilla; the chief executive of the GSLA, Reegan Lima; the La Linea councillor responsible for sports, Helenio Lucas Fernandez; organiser Maria Hidalgo Chapman and other dignitaries.
During the presentation, a draw was held for the groups for matches that will take place in August.
The tournament will see first division women’s teams from England, Spain and France joined by US second division side Salsa.
Gibraltar will be one of the hosting venues, with first division women’s team Everton FC joined by current Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and US side Salsa.
The Gibraltar Football Association, through its deputy President Ian Torrilla and GSLA CEO Reegan Lima highlighted their full support in providing the resources to make the tournament a success.
Mr Lima explained that he hoped the event would emulate the success, ambience and co-operation seen between regional organisations in the Strait Games.
“We are happy to be a part of the Strait Games, which shows the positive signs, and I hope we can recreate what happened in Tarifa,” he said.
Gibraltar Government spokesman Clive Golt further highlighted the support from the Gibraltar Government, describing the tournament as an “important initiative” which was fully supported by Gibraltar.
Gibraltar’s Mayor also joined in emphasising how the tournament, which the organisers hope will become an annual event, will illustrate and further strengthen existing sporting links between La Linea and Gibraltar.
Group matches will be played at both the Victoria Stadium and the La Balona football pitches.
The organisers highlighted that the matches had been scheduled to be played at 6pm in La Linea and 9pm in Gibraltar on the same days.
This they claimed as to ensure that supporters could watch all the matches, “by just having to cross the border”.
Mr Franco, who admitted being an Atletico Madrid supporter, jokingly expressed his disappointment at missing out on hosting the group in which his team was seeded.
However he pointed out that this would give him an opportunity to visit Gibraltar to watch his team play.
Pic by Stephen Ignacio