City pitches in with site for swamp soccer tournament

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THE final whistle had almost been blown on the bid to find a venue to host the city's first Swamp Soccer World Cup.

But finally, after almost a year of searching, event organiser Stewart Miller and the city council have managed to secure a location - land in the Niddrie area, next to the Jack Kane Sports Centre.

The international tournament will see teams battling it out on five-a-side pitches which resemble a swamp, in a bid to claim the title of world champions.

To create the artificial swamp, organisers will excavate swathes of earth with machinery and fill the churned remnants knee-deep with water, before returning the land to its original state after the event.

Mr Miller, 48, said: "It dries out within a couple of days and the grass grows in naturally. The grass area we're using is around two acres and we will create about four or five five-a-side pitches on it."

The event started in Scotland in 2006 but quickly outgrew its previous venues in Strachur and Dunoon, and as a result is being held in the Capital for the first time in June.

Last month, the Evening News reported that the council, which supports the event, was struggling to find a venue, with Mr Miller appealing to private landowners in Edinburgh to consider giving up their land for one weekend each year to host the event.

Although no private landowners came forward, the council is now in the final stages of securing land at The Wisp.

Mr Miller said: "After looking at 14 sites in Edinburgh, we have finally found our venue.

"Now we are just cracking on with it. I'm happy with the venue; it's less than five miles from the city centre yet it's in the country, so it is ideal for us.

"I will be looking for a new location in Edinburgh for next year's event because I want to show off Edinburgh in the best light."

The annual two-day event, which will take place on June 25 and 26, is expected to attract up to 2500 people.

Teams from China, Russia, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, France and Australia have already signed up, as well as a host of home-grown sides.

Hundreds of swamp soccer matches will take place over the two days and there will be a campsite situated next to the pitches. There will also be live music on the Saturday night.

Players and visitors staying at the campsite will be able to use the indoor changing rooms and hot showers at the Jack Kane Sports Centre next to the site. Players are invited to wear fancy dress costumes, with a prize awarded to the best fancy dressed team.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: "The council has been working closely with Mr Miller to identify a suitable location for the swamp soccer event.Although discussions are still ongoing at this stage, we are optimistic that The Wisp will meet the required criteria so that the tournament can go ahead as planned later this year."