|Wigan and Angers’ “football cordiale”
Shevington FC celebrates in Angers.
At international level they may be experiencing very different fortunes.
But at the grass roots, England and France are proving they’re both still in love with football – thanks to youngsters from Wigan and its twin town of Angers.
The beautiful game is well-known for breaking down and bringing people together in a shared love of sport.
And that’s exactly what happened recently when a special football-mad delegation from Wigan made its way to the borough’s Gallic counterpart of Angers.
The 90-strong squad from Shevington FC had been invited by their opposite numbers from Angers-based Intrépide FC to come and take part in a junior football tournament.
After an 18-hour journey over land and sea the Wigan youngsters were immediately whisked off to a civic reception with Wigan’s ambassador to Angers Patrick king and the city’s deputy mayor in charge of spot Michel Houdbine.
From there the Shevington children and the Angevins went to cheer on local side Angers SCO in their match against rivals Laval. And the Brits brought luck with them because the home side came away as 2-1 winners.
In between playing their own games the children had chance to enjoy some of the cultural highlights of the medieval city.
But it was the soccer that everyone was really there for, Bruno Goua, the main organiser for Intrépide explains: “Seeing Angers and Wigan children playing football together at dark was a magical time.
“The people from Wigan are warm and generous. A man from the delegation offered me a Latics shirt with unimaginable kindness.”
Ian Santus, the main organizer of the trip for Shevington FC is ready to take the challenge of welcoming Angers next year “as well and with as much enthusiasm as they welcomed us.”
Though Angers Intrépide team is excited at the prospect of travelling to Wigan in 2011, Bruno Goua now hardly imagines a first week-end of May without Shevington and assures that “if they want to come back, we’ll roll out the red carpet for them!”
So, who won the tournament? Well, there could only really be one winner and when the Shevington side and Intrépide joined forces to field a single team between them, they came out victorious.
Pierre Macé, Angers’ ambassador in Wigan, says: “This exchange was successful beyond expectations. I am sure it is only the start of a true and long-lasting friendship between the two clubs and their members which year after year will strengthen the Angers and Wigan relationship.”