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Grassroots football organisation Street Soccer and Forest Pitch arts and football project have unveiled four Scottish teams for the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.
They include Scottish women's international player, Shannon Lynn, along with former professional male players from countries such as Iraq. Alongside them will be a mixture of others from talented members of teams such as Glasgow Afghan United to people who had barely kicked a ball before getting involved with Forest Pitch.
Despite the immense differences experience they have been skilfully welded into two male and two female teams by coaches from Street Soccer Scotland during training at the Toryglen Regional Football Centre in Glasgow.
With one training session to go they are nearly ready to play a highly unusual tournament, in a specially created sporting arena, at the heart of a Selkirk woodland in front of a 1,000-strong crowd of supporters.
David Duke, Chief Executive of Street Soccer Scotland, said: "We're delighted to be part of the Forest Pitch project and to see people who have come through Street Soccer Scotland's various projects and actually delivering the skills they have learnt is tremendous for them and shows others looking to refocus their lives and take a new direction that there really are opportunities to do so."
Forest Pitch is one of Scotland's largest main contributions to the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad, which are running in tandem with the games. It is a celebration of the Olympic spirit and an exploration of Scottish culture and identity.
Most of the 60 men and women players are new Scots - people who have come to the country in search of safety, for love and family reasons, or to work or study. All are united by their desire to celebrate Scottish culture and sport by taking part in an experiential arts event.
Edinburgh-based artist Craig Coulthard was inspired to create the project after learning to play football as a child, on a pitch in a West German forest, while his father was serving in the RAF during the Cold War. Craig later moved to Fife and played for the St Andrews Colts.
He said: "Scotland is such an incredibly diverse place and I wanted to look at what it means to be Scottish these days.
"The players taking part in Forest Pitch are from just about every background and culture you can imagine, but they are united in their love of Scotland and a desire to celebrate its sporting passion.
"The Street Soccer coaches have done an amazing job of creating four teams from scratch - and there's some really impressive talent out there so the games will be really entertaining, especially as they are being played on a really amazing pitch in the heart of a forest."
The teams have been named Olympia and Nemea (men) and Delphi and Corinth (women) after the locations of the original pan Hellenic games of ancient Greece.
Shannon Lynn, whose parents are Scots who emigrated to Canada 30 years ago, has just been with the Scottish women's team over in Ireland. She was drawn to Forest Pitch for many reasons - including the chance to play alongside other new Scots with a love of football.
She said: "It's such a really cool idea, football played on a pitch in the middle of a forest. When I heard about it I thought it would be really good to be a part of it, so I'm really looking forward to the experience. I think it's a great idea to bring together people who have chosen to live here so they can celebrate the country through football."
The matches take place on 21 July - but these are only part of the project. And the games are just the start of the art project which is something that will continue to grow, literally and figuratively, for generations.
Once the matches are over the white lines will be planted with native trees and will become an evolving environmental sculpture - what has been described as a ghost pitch. This living artwork will be enjoyed by local residents and visitors for 60 years to come. An arts film and book of the project will follow. Forest Pitch will also be developed through internet.
The women's teams:
Shannon Lynn, Scottish women's international, will play one half for each team.
(Coach - Rachel Mclean)
1. Laurentine Zibi - Goalkeeper
2. Elena Reid
3. Safia Ali Kparah
4. Michelle Magee
5. Mireilla Bikanga
6. Maude Grenier
7. Clowie Wheeler-Ozanne
8. Cheryl Watt
9. Janis McCourt
10. Jacqueline Taylor
11. Jo Simpson
12. Shannon Lynn
13. Leslieann McLoughlin
79. Ellie Harrison
(Coach - Laura Thomson)
1. Sonia Isibor Aiworo - Goalkeeper
2. Bernadett Schreiner
3. Debbie Morrison
4. Valeria Cardozo
5. Emma Brian
6. Allison Gibbs
7. Makiko Konishi
8. Alison O'Neill
9. June McArthur
10. Amanda Raissa Ntongo
11. Leyla Sharif
12. Shannon Lynn
13. Jeananne Kelly
14. Sophie D'Arcy
21. Becky Hunt
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