Young footballers from across the city will have their first taste of UEFA Cup glory on Monday when the coveted trophy arrives in the city.
The trophy will be returned to UEFA by defending champions Sevilla FC in a ceremony at Manchester Town Hall, ahead of the final in May, and local youngsters have been invited to put on their own footballing display in Albert Square to mark the occasion.
Coaches from Manchester City Football Club will be delivering training sessions to primary school pupils from across Manchester before they kick off a series of matches as part of the UEFA Cup Final 2008 - Manchester 3v3s.
Launched last month at Wright Robinson Sports College, the 3v3 football competition has been entered by more than 600 Manchester youngsters and will culminate in 130 of them winning a trip to the UEFA Cup Final 2008, at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Councillor Mike Kane, Manchester City Council's Executive Member for Arts & Leisure said: "The 3v3 tournament is just one of the ways that local communities are able to share in this fantastic sporting spectacle. It is great fun for the youngsters involved and it is wonderful that they will be representing the city's strong sporting culture for UEFA and their guests on Monday."
The 3v3 teams are each made up of a manager and five players but only three per team are on the pitch at any one time. The tournament includes competitions for both boys and girls of primary school age, for disabled youngsters and for those aged 10 to 16 who take part in the Streetlife Football social inclusion programme run by Manchester City Council.
Matches will be played at sites throughout the city until May, including those on Monday.
The UEFA trophy will be returned, by Sevilla FC, to UEFA's president Michel Platini, who will then hand it to the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Glynn Evans, for the city to keep and display to the public until the final at the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday 14 May 2008.
The public will be able to view the Cup at the following venues:
18 March pm - 2 April: Manchester Evening News Office Foyer, Number 1 Scott Place, Manchester M3 3RN
Monday - Saturday, 10am - 4pm
3 April - 1 May 2008: Manchester City FC Museum, City of Manchester Stadium
Monday - Saturday, 9.30am - 4.30pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 11am - 3pm
2 - 13 May 2008: Manchester Town Hall
Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
Claire Keegan, tel: 0161 234 4014