Friday, September 12, 2008

Stage set for draw ceremony...

As I arrived in Santiago, Chile for the Women's U20 Draw, the following story appeared on the FIFA Website.

The fate of the 16 qualifiers for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Chile 2008 will be decided at 17.00 (local time) this Saturday when the Chilean capital hosts the draw for the group phase.

Vina Cousino Macul, a magnificent late-nineteenth century residence in the outskirts of Santiago, provides the fitting location for an event the host nation has been carefully planning for the last few months. And with just a day to go before the ceremony, the preparations are complete.

The destiny of the 16 qualifying nations (click on the link in the left-hand column for a detailed profile of each team) is in the hands of the four women who will be making the draw: Laura Albornoz, the Chilean Women's National Service Minister; Francisca Puertas, a 2006 roller hockey world championship winner; Marisol Villarroel, the South American figure skating champion; and Brazilian footballer Sissi, one of the greatest players in the history of the game and a FIFA Ambassador. Compering the event will be FIFA's Head of Competitions Jim Brown, with the well-known former Chilean international Elias Figueroa lending assistance.

The teams will be drawn into four groups, with matches being played at the four tournament venues of Temuco, Coquimbo, Chillan and La Florida (Santiago) between 19 November and 7 December.

As well as the draw, the ceremony will also feature live entertainment and various high-ranking dignitaries will be in attendance, including the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who is also the Honorary President of the Chile 2008 Local Organising Committee, and Chuck Blazer, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee and the President of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 and U-17 Women's World Cups. Joining them will be leading officials from the Chilean FA, various secretaries of state and legislators, the mayors of the four host cities and over 400 guests, including delegations from the qualifying countries.

"The Official Draw is our window to the world," commented the Executive Director of the Local Organising Committee, Eduardo Rojas, who is eager to extend his guests the warmest of welcomes. "Although this is a sporting occasion, we want the event to have a typically Chilean feel. We want this World Cup to be a huge celebration for the country and we are looking forward greatly to welcoming the participating teams."

So make sure you log on to this Saturday and find out what the draw has in store for the 16 hopefuls. And while you wait to discover who plays who, why not head to the tournament home page and catch up on all the latest Chile 2008 news?

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