Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

... and Today It's Newcastle's Turn

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

... and Today It's Newcastle's Turn

Article excerpt

MONTHS of preparation will finally come to fruition today as the North East hosts its first Olympic football match.

As sporting fever takes hold, thousands of athletes and visitors are expected to flock to Newcastle to watch some of the games scheduled to take place at St James' Park, home of Newcastle United.

The first of scores of North East Olympians flew the flag for the region in the first women's football match yesterday at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Stephanie Houghton from Durham and Jill Scott from Sunderland made their Olympic debut for Team GB in the game last night against New Zealand. The pair helped secure a 1-0 victory over their opponents, with Stephanie scoring the winning goal, kick-starting the competition as they mean to go on.

And the regional pride is set to continue as the world's eyes will be focused on Newcastle during the next week.

Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI) say the city's central role in hosting this year's games offers an unprecedented opportunity to boost the perception of the region as well as the economy.

Chief executive Sarah Stewart said: "The Games are very important to the region in three ways; what's happening in the run-up to the Games, during the Games itself and then thinking about legacy.

"First off, it's worth mentioning the value of the North East contracts that have been won by North East-based businesses.

It was more than 120 contracts worth an estimated value of over pounds 125m.

"I then think what we saw in terms of people turning out in their tens of thousands to see the Olympic Torch relay going through the region - that was a sign that people are taking the Olympics seriously and showing that our region wants to be part of it."

It's anticipated that businesses within the city centre will see significant economic benefits during the actual Games tournament as thousands of people visit to watch the football matches. …

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