BUDDING football stars of the future are gearing themselves up for Bradford Council’s 34th annual Valley Parade Memorial Football Tournament.

The tournament has been held every year since 1986 to commemorate the 56 people who lost their lives in the fire disaster at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground during a match with Lincoln City on 11 May 1985.

Organised by the Council’s Community Sports Development Unit and supported by the Prison Officers’ Association, the contest will take place over the Easter weekend at Marley Activities and Coaching Centre in Keighley.

Teams from Bradford City, Lincoln City and Bradford’s twin town of Hamm in Germany will play games against a host of junior clubs from across the district.

Tomorrow (April 20) the Under-12s age group play their games on the synthetic pitch while on Sunday (April 21) the Under-14s teams take centre stage.

The first games on both mornings kick off at 9am and are preceded by a minute’s silence, in which all players, coaches and match officials take part.

The final on both days is held at 2.30pm, followed by presentation of individual medals to every player from the 10 teams who took part each day.

The spirit of the event is to promote friendship through football and a fair play trophy is awarded on both days.

That trophy is based on the feedback given from the match officials who very kindly give up their spare time to officiate at all the games across the weekend.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Zafar Ali, will attend on the afternoon of Easter Sunday.

He will present the trophies and medals alongside Mark Fairhurst, the National Chair of the Prison Officers Association, sponsors of the event.

Every participant takes home a medal regardless of where they finish in the tournament.

Furthermore, Bradford City have provided free tickets for their home game against Gillingham on Easter Monday, April 22, for all those who participated.

Bradford Council’s Assistant Director for Sport and Culture Phil Barker, said: "This popular event continues to be fitting tribute to those who died and will introduce young people to the experience of playing in a tournament.

"The focus will be on making friends through football, taking part, having fun and playing the game in the right spirit.

"It will also help us to not only remember the past but also celebrate the future of football in Bradford and the district."

Mr Fairhurst, National Chair of the POA, said: "While the tournament was born out of a tragedy and gives us a time to reflect and remember, it has over the years developed to represent much of what is good in society by promoting friendship through football."