Yorkshire team gearing up for football glory

Yorkshire's first games will be played at Hemsworth Miners' Welfare FC
Yorkshire's first games will be played at Hemsworth Miners' Welfare FC
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Yorkshire’s ‘national’ football team will find out this weekend if it will be eligible to play in World Cup and European Championship tournaments.

The Hemsworth-based team will be told on Sunday if its application to join CONIFA has been successful.

CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations) is for regions and states and is not recognised by FIFA, the sport’s international governing body.

Around 40 players have been handpicked to try out for the Yorkshire team this Sunday, which already has its first ever game lined up on January 28, against the Isle of Man.

Creator and chairman of YIFA (Yorkshire International Federation Association), Phil Hegarty said: “It’s a big month for us, but we’ve not had time to think about it, it’s just been go, go, go at the moment.

“We are quietly confident of getting into CONIFA, there’s been a lot of support from them behind the scenes.

“CONIFA has got a strong profile anyway, but we have smashed it wide open as far this part of the world is concerned.”

Mr Hegarty said the idea for a Yorkshire team became a possibility after reading articles about CONIFA, whose headquarters are based in Sweden.

And since the formation of YIFA last year, interest in the team has soared.

Mr Hegarty said: “I’m surprised at the speed of how much the interest has increased, we know how powerful the Yorkshire brand is and we know we can do a lot with it.

“We’ve gone from scratching around to get three or four people interested to getting 75,000 hits on Twitter, it’s incredible.”

Once the squad is chosen after this Sunday’s trials, the team will be based, for now anyway, at Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC’s ground, Yorkshire NuBuilds Stadium.

But Mr Hegarty has plans to play all across the county and said: “Richard Norman (chairman of Hemsworth Miners), is very pro-Yorkshire and he is really behind the whole concept.

“But we want to spread our wings and play in every Riding at some point, like Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”

Following the game against the Isle of Man, the team will take part in the Yorvik Trophy in May, and play a friendly on Yorkshire Day - August 1.

If accepted into CONIFA, the team could play in tournaments as far as Africa and Asia.