THE region is playing host to young American footballers who are on a month long trip to England.

On Saturday, Bishop Auckland St Mary’s Juniors staged a friendly tournament for Temecula Valley Soccer Academy Hawks, from California.

St Mary’s under 13s and under 15s teams took part in the competition with their American guests, along with teams they invited from Willington, Newton Aycliffe and Bowburn.

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Club official Linda Curl was instrumental in organising the event at Bishop Auckland College’s playing fields.

Stephen Coulthard, chairman of St Mary’s, said: “They contacted us through our website, I think because of the profile we have after playing cup finals at Middlesbrough’s training ground at Hurworth and because we have 20 teams.

“When they said they were coming to the North-East and looking for teams to play we welcomed them with open arms, it was an absolutely marvellous day and a real opportunity for our boys to play foreign opposition.

“They are a really big club, with over 50 teams, and were very friendly and kind, they swapped shirts and we presented medals.

“We hope this can be the start of a relationship that continues, they come here again or we may even have the chance to visit them.”