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Inverness girls' football team to play USA team in new tournament this summer

By Alasdair Fraser

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City of Downey ambassador Claudia Echeverria was presented with a giant Saltire to take to home to California after watching Thistle Girls in action.
City of Downey ambassador Claudia Echeverria was presented with a giant Saltire to take to home to California after watching Thistle Girls in action.

A trophy-winning Inverness girls’ football club is set for international action at a new tournament to be held in the city this July.

Thistle Girls FC – winners of the first under-13s North Rachel McLaughlin League last year – will be one of six Highland teams facing southern Californian opposition at the inaugural Provost’s Cup.

Last week, Thistle head coach Lee Murray and his coaching team played host to Claudia Echeverria, an ambassador for three teams from the city of Downey, which lies south of Los Angeles.

Columbia-born Ms Echeverria, who was scouting for training facilities and accommodation in the area, said: “We’ve been made to feel very welcome by everyone connected to Thistle FC and I’ve been absolutely blown away by the beauty of the city and its surroundings.

“We’re very much looking forward to coming here in July with our teams, with some of our girls also exploring the possibility of competing in Highland games events during the visit.”

The invitational tournament will feature one under-16s team and two under-19s college teams from Downey, a 112,000 population city considered the birthplace of NASA’s Apollo space programme.

As well as football action on July 17, some of the US visitors will compete in track and field events at the Inverness Highland Games the following day.

Mr Murray said: “It is going to be a great experience for girls from this area to play against well-established teams from southern California.

“It will be fantastic for girls’ and women’s football in the north, all the clubs taking part, to see how other countries have developed over the years.

“They seem to be a highly-professional outfit, so I’m really looking forward to pitting our wits against them.”

With 1700 young footballers on their books, they regularly fundraise for international trips for matches and tournaments.

Ms Echeverria added: “For many of our youngsters, these tours provide unforgettable experiences that will stay with them forever.

“This year will be the first time they have come to Scotland and they are all very excited about visiting the Highlands.”

The Downey Squad will include youngsters with roots in Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador and Ecuador.

As well as Thistle, girls teams from Brora Rangers, Invergordon and the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Women’s Development Squad will take part.

Highland Council and Inverness Loch Ness Tourism BID are supporting the tournament, with plans afoot to make it an annual event.

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