Northern Ireland is gearing up to host a major international women's football tournament.
This weekend, over 144 of the best young female footballers in Europe will descend on Northern Ireland ahead of the kick-off of the UEFA Under-19 Women's Championship.
The tournament will run from the 8th to the 20th of August with 12 group games set to be played in four venues across Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland are set to take on Spain, Germany and Scotland in the group stages. The group games are being staged on August 8, 11 and 14 while the semi-finals are on August 17 and the final on August 20.
A fleet of vehicles will be carrying the teams and officials to and from their hotels to various venues, including 24 cars, eight coaches and even a six-carriage chartered train. The team will also be supported by 150 volunteers and 45 Irish FA staff as well as 70 UEFA officals.
Almost 4,000 beds have been booked in Belfast hotels for the teams and officials, with thousands more being booked by supporters from the supporters of various participating nations.
The various teams will be training at venues around the Greater Belfast area, including Ulidia Playing Fields, Blanchflower Stadium, Knockbreda FC, Billy Neill Complex, Queen’s Sport, Ulster University Jordanstown and Stormont Pavilion.
The campaign to host the tournament here began nearly three years ago. An Irish FA Tournament Bid Group submitted a comprehensive bid dossier to UEFA in October 2014 and in January 2015 Northern Ireland was selected as the host country at a UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Switzerland.
Tournament director Sara Booth has been working on the project for the past 18 months, which is backed by other Irish FA staff and a local organising committee.
Irish FA President David Martin said: “As an association we are committed to developing women’s football and we see this tournament as an opportunity to grow the game at a local level and to inspire young boys and girls across Northern Ireland to dream of wearing the green shirt.”
Northern Ireland’s first game of the WU19 Euros will see them take on Spain, last year’s runners-up, at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Tuesday (8 August, 19:00 kick-off). The tournament’s official opening ceremony will be staged before the match.
Tickets are now on sale via the Ticketmaster website, while the full list of fixtures and further information is available at www.irishfa.com