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Euro stars on road to Wembley

Youngsters from three schools have netted the chance to see the European Football Championships final in Wembley later this month.

They are set to travel to England's football mecca for the big match after their projects on European countries were judged winners in a nationwide school competition.

Finalists from 30 primary, secondary and special schools in the Euro 96 competition met the competition's judges, England international David Platt, former England international Emlyn Hughes and 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst when the winners were picked last week. They were awarded prizes of school equipment by the competition's sponsors, Canon (UK) and Philips Electronics.

The primary winners are the year 5 and 6 class from Summerseat Methodist Primary School near Bury. Second were Danby Church of England Primary School, Whitby and third were Old Park Primary School in Wednesbury, West Midlands.

More than 3,000 schools all over England and Wales entered the competition organised by the Football Association and the National Union of Teachers, and were asked to produce projects about countries taking part in the European championship.

Children taking part in the contest were asked to produce work showing knowledge and understanding of the language, history, culture and lifestyle in one long-established European country and one of the newly-created nations of eastern Europe.

It could take any form including written work, posters, collages - or even songs.

Competition co-ordinator Alan Evans of the University of Wales said the aim was to produce interesting work and at the same time help get across the message of the Football Association's campaign against hooliganism, racism and anti-social behaviour among football fans.

"Our aim was to get the message across without lecturing or moralising by stimulating their imagination and interest in other countries.

"They have been finding out about the history, geography, architecture, dance and drama of their chosen countries and most of them now know far more than their parents about places like Latvia or Croatia. The entries showed tremendous imagination."

The youngsters from Summerseat produced a calendar showing various aspects of life in their two chosen countries, Italy and the Ukraine. The "Calendar for a New Europe" featured pictures of famous landmarks in the two countries including the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral of Odessa.

Class teacher Helen Walton said the children chose a calendar because it was something every European country would understand.

"The children got an insight into Italy and the Ukraine, a country that a lot of them had never heard of. They will be looking out for the other two countries as well as England once Euro 96 gets under way," she said.

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